cover image Oliver


Judith Rossell. Harper, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-202210-3

Rossell (Merry Christmas, Mr. Snowman) offers a neat story about possibility and impossibility, freedom and constraints starring a boy named Oliver who is full of questions. “How do planes stay up in the sky?” he asks his mother. “Could a penguin live in our fridge?” “What lives down the drain?” Even though Mom is never shown on page, the sometimes- frazzled nature of their loving relationship is apparent—she answers one of Oliver’s questions “with her mouth full of clothespins,” and when Oliver complains that he’s not tired at naptime, Mom replies, “I am.... You do something quiet.” Oliver makes a cardboard box submarine and investigates what’s down the bathtub drain, arriving in the ocean where he meets a cruise ship filled with penguins on vacation. Life with the penguins is a blast (“We stay up all night,” says one, and they use jet packs to fly), but eventually Oliver is ready to return home. Elements of real life (broccoli, cardboard, drawing paper) work their way into Oliver’s fantasies in Rossell’s mixed-media artwork, emphasizing Oliver’s imagination and boundless curiosity at work. Ages 3–7. (May)