cover image Jake's Best Thumb

Jake's Best Thumb

Ilene Cooper, . . Dutton, $16.99 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-525-47788-4

A familiar story line becomes unexpectedly moving in the experienced hands of Cooper (The Golden Rule ) and Muñoz (Just Another Morning ). Kindergarten is on the horizon, and despite the concerns of his family (hipster Uncle Matt is the lone exception), Jake shows no indication of stopping his round-the-clock thumb-sucking. Why should he? “When it came to doing things with one thumb occupied, Jake was a master,” writes Cooper (the keenly observant Muñoz even shows Jake dexterously putting on a sock with a single hand). But when a kindergarten bully has everyone calling him a thumb-sucker, Jake realizes the stakes have suddenly gotten much, much higher. Cooper never rushes her storytelling—many of the pages have big chunks of text—but every word counts as she illuminates the various psychological dynamics. Her emotional acuity is a perfect match for Muñoz, whose watercolors convey a seemingly effortless physicality, immediacy and empathy. Ages 3–up. (July)