Dotty

Erica S. Perl, Author, Julia Denos, Illustrator
Erica S. Perl, illus. by Julia Denos, Abrams, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8109-8962-7
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When Ida starts school in the fall, she's just one of many kids in Ms. Raymond's class who comes with an imaginary friend in tow. But by springtime, only Ida's Dotty—a huge, horned, spotted bovine creature—is left; everyone else has moved on. "You don't still HAVE her, do you?" asks Katya, flaunting her newfound maturity (this is the same Katya who at one time had a imaginary spiderlike creature named Keekoo that liked swinging on her braids). Perl's (Chicken Butt!) brisk, reportorial prose allows her to be sympathetic to her holdout heroine without over-romanticizing her or discounting the progress of her peers. Denos's (My Little Girl) paintings are an unadulterated delight, combining the naïf styling of scribbly children's drawings for the creatures and the easy, playful elegance of pattern book illustrations from the 1950s. But the ending, which reveals that the pretty, poised Ms. Raymond still has an imaginary friend of her own, may divide readers struggling with their own maturation. Does that make her cool—or a case of arrested development? Ages 4–8. (Aug.)
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