cover image Barry’s Best Buddy

Barry’s Best Buddy

Renée French. Candlewick/Toon Books, $12.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-9351-7921-4

Comics creator French, who has written and illustrated two picture books as Rainy Dohaney, presents an offbeat story of misdirection, generosity, and opposites-attract friendship. Barry, a squarish bird with half-lidded eyes that telegraph disinterest and disdain, is awakened from a nap by his doughy, rodentlike friend, Polarhog, who promises him a surprise. Polarhog leads Barry on a rambling journey down a path, with stops along the way for hats (“I do not like hats,” grumps Barry), ice cream (“I don’t like ice cream,” sniffs Barry), and a found meatball (“EW. Then maybe don’t eat it,” suggests Barry). Their perambulation unfolds over full-bleed spreads in a palette so milky one would be forgiven for thinking the artwork was printed on vellum. As Barry and Polarhog move from left to right, a crew of ants travels in the opposite direction; armed with paint, light bulbs, and wire, they hint at what awaits Barry when he returns to his house, which Polarhog had dismissed as being the color of “snooze.” French’s sharp, pared-down dialogue easily establishes the friends’ personalities and provides many moments of humor. Ages 4–up. (Mar.)