Terrific!

Sophie Gilmore. Greenwillow, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-302518-9
Five animal friends seek an activity they’ll all enjoy, but it’s a challenge. “Swimming is terrific,” promises Turtle. “The water is cool and inviting, and you can push your way through reeds.” Ant-eater, Mandrill, and Turtle dive enthusiastically, but Badger and Owl clutch each other in dismay. Gilmore (Freda and the Blue Beetle) combines sinuous animal contours and sandy tints into cool, graceful spreads that belie the drama to come. As the group tries various activities, Snake appears: “I think that squeezing things tightly in my coils is terrific.” The other animals demur (“Thank you, Snake... but we have no coils. Join us”), but Snake continues to terrorize. Tension builds; Snake’s menace smolders (“It’s terrific to swallow an animal whole”). What is to be done? When the reptile finally attacks, Owl makes a decision that the whole group can appreciate, resulting in a spread that pictures the five Snake-free friends, relaxed and newly carefree. Though the conclusion echoes other dine-and-dash picture book endings, this one doesn’t get its laughs from guilty complicity. Instead, the heroic group, having triumphed over danger, shares a proud, Three Musketeers–like air, bringing relieved readers into their number in a story that’s not for the faint of heart. Ages 4–8. Agent: Jennifer Rofé, Andrea Brown Literary. (July)
Reviewed on : 04/22/2021
Release date: 07/06/2021
Genre: Children's
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