cover image Pepito the Brave

Pepito the Brave

Scott Beck. Dutton Books, $12.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-46524-9

In his first children's book, Beck introduces a charmer of an avian hero. Pepito, with his red ovoid body, bright purple eyes and yellow wings shaped like half-circle construction blocks, looks like he stepped out of a child's toy box. What's more, he's as gutsy as he is cute. Pepito is afraid of flying. When he leaves the nest, instead of flapping his wings like his brothers and sisters, ""he decided to go his own way."" Taking the advice of a fox, frog, fish and gopher, Pepito runs, hops, swims and burrows his way across gleefully stylized landscapes; a pink, ribbonlike fence reaches to the horizon across a field defined by a sweeping curve of gold. Beck keeps familiar landmarks in sight, so readers know that Pepito has not strayed too far. The feathered hero triumphs over every formidable obstacle on his way to meet up with his siblings, who point out that ""If you are brave enough to do all those things... / then you must be brave enough to fly!"" With just a few words per page and a crayon-bright palette, Beck creates a genuine poster-bird for pluckiness. Viva Pepito! Ages 3-6. (Mar.)