cover image Argus


Michelle Knudsen, illus. by Andréa Wesson, Candlewick, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-3790-3

Sally's green, polka-dotted science project egg should have produced a fluffy chick like her classmates' eggs, but it cracks open to reveal a dragon instead; she names him Argus. She needs three pieces of paper for his growth chart, and while her classmates' chicks peck sweetly in the yard, Argus chews "a giant hole in the ground with his teeth." Yet when Argus disappears, Sally grows worried. Her peppery science teacher, Mrs. Henshaw, becomes an unexpected ally (her orange traffic cones and brisk "Don't be difficult" are the story's leitmotifs); in the end, Sally grows to love having a companion that's not like anyone else's. Wesson's (the Evangeline Mudd books) watercolors of the tubby Argus are wonderfully goofy, especially when he's galumphing incongruously through Sally's classroom ("He stopped trying to eat the other chicks. He started trying to eat the children instead"). Knudsen (Library Lion) never overplays her hand, but lets the story's laughs unfold naturally from the characters and circumstances. Her grasp of the life of the elementary school classroom is spot-on; this should become another favorite. Ages 4–7. (Feb.)