Out for Good: The Adventures of Panda and Koala

Thierry Dedieu, Author Doubleday Books for Young Readers $8.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-385-32634-6
Two bear pals adopt a fish in this paper-over-board book, an uneasy mix of fantasy and animal-rights activism, nursery-style. The tale quickly becomes murky: Koala and Panda, animals themselves, go to a pet shop to acquire a new friend. They bring home a goldfish, but soon conclude, for reasons not made clear, that their finned companion would be better off free. So Panda and Koala decide to set the little fish loose in the ocean and put it through several trials (any of which would kill a real-life pet goldfish) to acclimate it to salt water and ocean waves. Their successful goldfish release inspires the bears to more pet rescues (""I guess there's no way we'll ever be bored again,"" says Koala, in the book's last line). Readers may have trouble finding logic in the bears' actions, and Dedieu's (Hunting for Fur) message is imprecise (should kids emulate Panda and Koala?). What charm exists here emanates from the art--childlike brushstrokes and loosely defined shapes, all rendered on sandy-beige paper and set off by the expert and minimal use of color. But the book design works against the illustrations, with some of the finest spreads marred by the gutters. All ages. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
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