Who’s Next Door?

Mayuko Kishira, trans. from the Japanese by Shana Rieko Shimizu, illus. by Jun Takabatake. Owlkids (PGW, dist.), $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-77147-071-1
A small-scale domestic mystery drives this understated yet delightful story from Kishira and Takabatake. Ideal for reading aloud, the clipped, direct narrative introduces Chicken, who is comfortable in his daily routine of cooking, reading, napping, and taking walks, “but sometimes he feels lonely.” Chicken is thrilled when he sees evidence that someone has moved in next door, but he’s unable to glimpse the new neighbor. Colored in a crayon-box palette of red, yellow, green, and blue, Takabatake’s simply outlined art mixes large single-page cartoons with sequential panels and spot images that show Chicken pacing, checking and re-checking the house next door, and—after the neighbors successfully exchange notes agreeing to meet up—preparing for their get-together. “It would be so much fun to have a friend,” Chicken thinks, imagining himself dancing under the stars with a white blob representing his as-yet-unknown friend. Kishira and Takabatake’s story practically vibrates with the excitement and nervousness that accompany new friendships, and the big reveal reminds readers both that not all birds are early birds and that solid friendships can bridge distance and time. Ages 3–7. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/02/2014
Release date: 08/01/2014
Genre: Children's
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