Priscilla Gorilla

Barbara Bottner, illus. by Michael Emberley. Atheneum/Dlouhy, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4814-5897-9
In a funny, empathic, and refreshingly unsentimental take on childhood, the team behind Miss Brooks Loves Books (And I Don’t) and other titles introduces Priscilla, a gorilla-obsessed first grader. Priscilla’s passion goes far beyond a mastery of fun facts: gorillas “always get their way,” she tells her mother, and this perceived ability to call the shots speaks deeply to Priscilla’s independent spirit and skepticism of authority—especially when that authority is her put-upon teacher, Mr. Todd. But Priscilla’s silverback act soon starts taking its toll on the classroom—so many peers emulate her that everyone ends up doing time in the euphemistically named Thinking Corner—and something has to give. Emberley’s watercolors, which channel the mischievous intelligence of Sendak, are wonderful at conveying personality through body language: a single drawing of Mr. Todd putting on his coat while announcing a field trip instantly communicates that this is a teacher with a solution to the Priscilla problem. And Priscilla, with her outsize confidence and (eventual) willingness to see a different perspective, is the perfect heroine for our times. Ages 4–7. Agent: Rick Richter, Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Literary. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/02/2017
Release date: 03/07/2017
Genre: Children's
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