cover image Sometimes It’s Nice to Be Alone

Sometimes It’s Nice to Be Alone

Amy Hest, illus. by Philip C. Stead. Holiday House/Porter, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4947-7

“Sometimes it’s nice to be alone,” Hest (Billy and Rose: Forever Friends) muses in this book’s early lines. “Just you, eating your cookie, alone.” Using printmaking techniques, Stead (The Sun Is Late and So Is the Farmer) portrays a child with tan skin, a black ponytail, thick glasses, and a serious expression munching the cookie at a table, a pink elephant stuffy underneath. “But what if a friend pops in?” A page later, the stuffy is gone, but a large, kindly-looking pink elephant pulls out a chair with its trunk: “and there you are, eating your cookie with a friend.” The series continues, toggling back and forth between the charms of solitude and the joys of companionship, as the toys seemingly transform into life-size associates. The child somersaults with a whale, “tucking and rolling,” and watches the rain in a tree house alongside a giraffe. Hest’s playful word use adds charm (about a dinosaur playing in leaves, “sometimes it’s nice if a friend comes crunching”), and Stead’s animal friends, who often look a little wistful, tap into a primal desire to frolic in perfect safety and abandon, engaging one’s private imagination. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: Emily van Beek, Folio Jr./Folio Literary. (Feb.)