cover image Gnome


Fred Blunt. Andersen Press USA, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5415-9624-5

Blunt (Santa Claus vs. the Easter Bunny) gives garden gnomes a lesson-laden origin story in this tale. With a permanent frown, Mr. Gnome has an obstinate attachment to the word no. “Say hello to the readers, Mr. Gnome,” the narrator requests. “No,” says Mr. Gnome, arms crossed in front of his belly. Asked if the narrator and readers can join his fishing trip, the white-bearded Mr. Gnome emerges from his mushroom home with a “NO!” Unsurprisingly, “NO” is also Mr. Gnome’s response to a request for help from a hedgehog with an apple lodged in his quills. When a witch appears and requests that Mr. Gnome stop fishing in her pond (to be fair, the sign says “no fishing”), it’s clear things won’t turn out well, and when the witch then turns Mr. Gnome to stone for being rude, it seems like a just punishment. But the moral twists when the narrator pleads for Mr. Gnome to be changed back and the witch, apparently an entrepreneur, refuses—turns out she’s in the stone garden gnome business. With a coldhearted capitalist for a witch, an irritatingly insistent narrator, and a curmudgeonly Gnome, Blunt presents an ensemble of characters that are each dislikable in their own way, and yet his scenes overall feel sunny and straightforward; it’s hard to know what kids will take away from this tale’s mixed message. Ages 4–9. [em](Apr.) [/em]