cover image Sunny and Oswaldo

Sunny and Oswaldo

Nicole Melleby, illus. by Alexandra Colombo. Algonquin, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-64375-095-8

When Dad brings home a scruffy gray stray whom he names Oswaldo, the feline spurns child Sunny. Sunny’s not fond of cats, but it still hurts when Oswaldo eschews Sunny’s best attempts at camaraderie, and will only cuddle and purr with Dad, who clearly “loved that cat more than anything”—Dad even takes Oswaldo’s side when the cat becomes frightened and scratches Sunny. When Oswaldo goes missing, Mom nudges Sunny to join Dad’s frantic search (“They need each other,” she says) and something clicks with the girl when her father explains that while Oswaldo may never get over the trauma of abandonment, “that doesn’t mean he’s not a good cat. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t love him.” In an authorial picture book debut, Melleby (The Science of Being Angry) and Bulgarian illustrator Colombo create a story about animal-human attachment, found family, and much more: with economic text and scribbly cartooning, they also offer an astute look at that moment when a child realizes there is more in a parent’s heart than initially imagined. All human characters read as white. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. Illustrator’s agent: Anne Moore Armstrong, Bright Agency. (Feb.)