MY SOMEBODY SPECIAL
Sarah Weeks, , illus. by Ashley Wolff. . Harcourt/ Gulliver, $16 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-15-202561-8
With its skillful interplay of text and art, this story taps into one of the verities of preschool, the anxiety of being the last one picked up. "Our busy day is almost through./ Somebody special is coming for you./ Somebody special will open the door,/ and you'll be the one they're looking for," writes Weeks (the Mrs. McNosh books). One by one, doting—and punctual—anthropomorphized animal parents come through the classroom door to take their offspring home. The last one left is a puppy, who, having watched many of the departures, now looks unmistakably woebegone. Then, in a spread that will resonate as much with parents as with children, Wolff moves the action from the warmly lit interior to the darkened outdoors, where a frantic canine mother rushes from the bus stop toward school. "Who's feeling a little bit worried—are you?" reads the text. With this scene, Wolff makes the line about worrying refer to both parent and child, and plumbs the emotional nuances of the situation while retaining the same amiable and detailed visual style of the popular Miss Bindergarten books. The artist doesn't overplay the puppy's fears—he grows increasingly wide-eyed and anxious, but doesn't cry or panic. Children, accordingly, can identify with the puppy's struggle to be brave yet share his tail-wagging relief when his "somebody special" envelops him with a big hug. Ages 2-5.
Reviewed on: 04/15/2002