cover image Sweety


Andrea Zuill. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-525-58000-3

Zuill’s opening description of her eponymous protagonist has startling frankness: “Sweety was awkward. Even for a naked mole rat.” Indeed, Sweety seems designed to test the limits of readers’ tolerance for eccentricities. Her prominent braces and spectacles make all the other anthropomorphized naked mole rats around her look downright mainstream; she misreads social cues and has passions that others find peculiar (“Would you like to come over to my house and help me identify fungi?” she asks another mole rat). But thanks to the unconditional affection and wise counsel of her Aunt Ruth, who was also a “square peg” growing up, Sweety has a nascent and increasingly firm belief that “being Sweety wasn’t so bad. In fact, it could be pretty awesome.” Readers who resonate with Sweety’s singularity may find their credulity initially tested, especially since Sweety’s peers are uncomprehending rather than thoughtless or cruel (her invitation to explore mycology is met with a puzzled but polite decline). But Zuill (Business Pig), who is fast becoming the bard of different-drummer types, effectively employs empathy, honesty, and an elegant ink line to persuade readers that everyone can find their people. Ages 3–7. Agent: Erzsi Deàk, Hen&ink Literary Studio. [em](Mar.) [/em]