cover image Pretend


Jennifer Plecas. Philomel, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-23430-9

"Pretend... that this couch is a big boat, and that we're floating on an ocean," says Jimmy to his father. Dad, with his shoes off and magazine in hand, was clearly looking forward to some Me Time, but he acquiesces, and the pair are off on an elaborate fantasy adventure that involves crossing oceans, landing on a deserted island, and making camp at the top of a challenging mountain. Jimmy, of course, calls all the shots and proves both courageous and competent ("I don't know if I can make it," Dad tells Jimmy. "Don't worry!" his son replies, "I'll help you!"). The breezy writing and lighthearted watercolor cartoons make this father-son bonding story fly by; with occasional reminders of where Jimmy and Dad really are, readers gain a full appreciation for the powers of the boy's imagination. If the wrapup feels a bit heavy-handed and unnecessary ("You're the best," Jimmy tells his father. "For pretend and for real"), it's only because Plecas (Ella Kazoo Will Not Brush Her Hair) has already done such a good job conveying how much her characters enjoy each other's company. Ages 3%E2%80%938. (May)