cover image Billy and Goat at the State Fair

Billy and Goat at the State Fair

Dan Yaccarino. Knopf, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-385-75325-8

How can best friends be so different? Billy, a farm boy, is methodical and mild-mannered; Goat, a goat, is boisterous and a little impulsive. As Yaccarino (Doug Unplugged) writes, “Billy liked reading adventure stories, but Goat was always looking for real-life adventures.” Their relationship works just fine until they decide to enter the “best goat” competition at the State Fair. Could this be the opportunity for Goat to learn to curb his enthusiasm, while Billy loosens up a bit? Yaccarino doesn’t push his life lessons too hard, and his brightly colored, boldly graphic pictures are well suited to capturing the excitement and, in Billy’s case, sensory overload of a big, sprawling event (he uses a dotted line to trace their path past rides and games to reach the livestock tent). But while there are many sharp-looking vignettes (Billy spends the middle of the book chasing after Goat, who always manages to be wherever the boy isn’t looking), the characters’ personalities aren’t vivid enough to make up for a perfunctory story about mismatched but well-matched friends. Ages 3–7 Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (June)