cover image Oh, Panda

Oh, Panda

Cindy Derby. Knopf, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-593-56472-1

“Good morning, Panda. What are we going to do today?” asks this picture book’s slightly overbearing narrator before suggesting their own idea: “Should we build an ice castle? With tiny circle windows to look out over all the land?” But Panda, who’s surrounded by a landscape of radiant ice and velvety snow rendered in purple-hued watercolor and gouache, has a plan that’s not on that agenda. Tantalized by a fluttering pink and gold butterfly that heads up a tall, slippery mountain, the little bear is determined to assert its free will and follow the insect to the top. “Oh, Panda,” the exasperated-sounding narrator sighs after the fluffy critter’s mountain-scaling efforts end in setbacks. Seeing how forlorn Panda has become, the voice finally stops deflecting the bear and offers genuine help in the form of pinecone snowshoes, which, along with Panda’s tenacity and ingenuity, result in a successful ascension, a visually revelatory vista, and an appreciative and awestruck reprisal: “Oh, Panda.” Tackling persistence and much more, this wryly empathic story from Derby (Blurp’s Book of Manners) thoughtfully models an instance of learning to respect autonomy and offer meaningful support. Ages 2–5. Agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary. (Sept.)