cover image Yellowbelly and Plum Go to School

Yellowbelly and Plum Go to School

Nathan Hale, . . Putnam, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-24624-1

Aduo that debuted in background roles in Hale’s The Devil You Know takes center stage in the author’s latest work. Yellowbelly, a large cat-like monster with a bushy tail and wide, toothy grin, and his purple teddy bear sidekick named Plum are best pals. Humorous vignettes show the pair playing several creative games together, like envelope (in which they are shown stuffed inside a mailbox) and meteor shower (played as Yellowbelly dumps miscellaneous small toys over his inanimate friend, who wears a glass jar for a space helmet). When it’s time to start school, Yellowbelly thinks it would be “a fun game to play.” However, when Plum is inadvertently taken from the slide, the fun stops for a frantic Yellowbelly. A full-color double spread offers a Where’s Waldo ?-like, birds-eye playground scene where whimsical, animal-like and robotic monsters classmates mingle and play with realistically depicted children in a fanciful schoolyard setting. The friends are finally reunited after Plum “learns” several other games with his new friends—he’s been used as a Frisbee and a basketball while away from his monster companion. Heartwarming and clever, Yellowbelly and Plum’s school adventure encompasses a range of emotions that youngsters often feel and should particularly resonate with those who are attached to a stuffed animal. This tale of friendship and loyalty will have readers awaiting more from this likable twosome. Ages 3-up. (July)