cover image Me and Annie McPhee

Me and Annie McPhee

Olivier Dunrea, illus. by Will Hillenbrand. Philomel, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-16808-6

Dunrea (the Gossie & Friends series) and Hillenbrand (the Bear and Mole books) assemble a cast of eccentric animals in this cumulative counting story narrated by a binoculars-toting monkey. He and another monkey, Annie McPhee, live on a tiny island where, “in the middle of the sea,/ as far as the eye could see,/ there was nothing to see but sea.” The spot is idyllic until several uninvited guests start to arrive, including “two wee dogs who thought they were frogs,” “three perky pigs all wearing wigs,” and “four frumpy hens hunched with their pens.” Rather than interact with their visitors, the monkeys look on from a distance, eventually deciding that the island has become too crowded and hitching a ride with a passing whale. Hillenbrand, working in pencil and digital media, is fully in step with the playful absurdity of Dunrea’s verse as he pictures seven pink snails sliding down a shale rock face, eight sleepwalking sheep dressed in striped nightshirts, and other quirky groupings. It’s light, cheery fun, full of verbal and visual silliness. Ages 3–7. (June)