In a South American village, a donkey named Francis makes shoes for discerning clients. Francis is overjoyed to receive a commission from Miss Manatee, his favorite calypso singer, but before he can start work, he discovers that his friend and tiger grass supplier, Nigel, has gone missing. Venturing into the forest to sort out Nigel’s situation (he has been stealing tiger grass from its grower, Harriet the jaguar) is a big test for Francis, who has never been outside his village. His success helps him think outside the box when he discovers that aquatic manatees don’t wear shoes. Instead, he and his friends make Miss Manatee a handsome wheeled cart. With their cheerful expressions and rubbery limbs, Varon’s creatures behave with gentle civility throughout, as when Harriet and her predator friends stand at the very back of Buster’s Calypso Café during Miss Manatee’s performance, so as not to intimidate the other patrons. Varon (Odd Duck) introduces a rain forest setting most likely new to readers (Guyana, an afterword explains) in a story that brims with creativity and affection. Ages 6–10. Agent: Tanya McKinnon, McKinnon McIntyre. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/15/2018 Release date: 03/20/2018 Genre: Children's
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