An array of woodland characters pay kindness forward in this character-driven series opener from Castillo (Imagine). Hedgehog is largely content with her island life alongside best friend Mutty, a stuffed dog, but when a storm separates them, she gathers her courage and sets off to find him. Falling into an underground abode damaged by the recent storm, Hedgehog is befriended by empathic Mole, whose home she helps to repair. In turn, a thankful Mole assists Hedgehog with her search, and the two meet multiple friends along the way, Mole greeting each animal in a different language (“Guten Tag, Owl!”; “Salaam, Hen”). The characters recall those of Milne’s Hundred Acre Wood: Word-loving Owl lists definitions, headstrong Beaver is preoccupied with his home of sticks, adventurous Hen and her two playful chicks engage in familial bustle, and narrator Annika Mae Flores, a brown-skinned child who is new to the area, binds them all together following a waterlogged adventure. Inviting mixed-media illustrations evoke a timeless sensibility, rich with foliage and burgeoning friendship. And Castillo’s friendly message about community, courage, and new beginnings should be a hit among early readers. Ages 5–9. Agent: Paul Rodeen, Rodeen Literary. (May)
Reviewed on : 03/18/2020 Release date: 05/05/2020 Genre: Children's
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