cover image I Won a What?

I Won a What?

Audrey Vernick, illus. by Robert Neubecker. Knopf, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-553-50993-9

After Vernick’s unnamed narrator inadvertently wins a whale at a carnival, the boy’s fair-minded parents allow him to bring Nuncio home on a “trial basis.” Fortunately, they already have an “enormous swimming pool” for the hulking blue whale to occupy. Vernick (First Grade Dropout) and Neubecker (The Problem with Not Being Scared of Kids) play the situation for both laughs and touching “aww” moments from start to finish, with the artist’s characteristically bold illustrations readily complementing the humor of Vernick’s writing. The corners of Nuncio’s smile peek out of the water as the boy and his parents arrive with wheelbarrows of seafood for him to eat (Neubecker dutifully x’s out the eyes of every fish and octopus), and the boy has a bit of trouble describing the precise lilt of Nuncio’s song (“At first I think it’s a musical cow. Or a broken, slowed-down siren. Possibly a hurt donkey”). Sweet without turning saccharine, it’s proof that the best kinds of love can come from the most unexpected places. Ages 3–7. [em]Author’s agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Linda Pratt, Wernick & Pratt Literary Agency. (Apr.) [/em]