The Almost Terrible Playdate

Richard Torrey. Doubleday, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-553-51099-7
Two children find themselves at cross-purposes as they suggest pretend-play scenarios and cast themselves in the best role. Dueling thought balloons picture each child's suggestions and the other's resistance: "What if I'm a magical wizard... and you're a frog that I turn into a pony?" the girl proposes. "No, how about we're both race cars but I'm the fastest?" the boy later suggests, imagining a high-speed race while the girl thinks of ear-splitting motor noise. Torrey sketches the friends in black lines on white backgrounds and uses colored pencil—purple for the girl, green for the boy—to create their mental images, building on the visual tactic he used so effectively in Ally-saurus and the First Day of School. His design brings the children's ideas to vivid imaginative life, and when they cooperate, purple figures appear in the green illustrations and vice versa. "If you're a bulldozer, maybe you can build a road to my castle," says the would-be queen. Torrey's characters model compromise and amiability, adjusting their gendered stances and negotiating a mutually acceptable balance of princesses and dragons. Ages 3–7. Agent: Ronnie Ann Herman, Herman Agency. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/14/2015
Release date: 02/16/2016
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Library Binding - 40 pages - 978-0-375-97430-4
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