cover image Prudence and Moxie: A Tale of Mismatched Friends

Prudence and Moxie: A Tale of Mismatched Friends

Deborah Noyes, , illus. by AnnaLaura Cantone. . Houghton Mifflin, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-618-41607-3

While this story about unlikely friends is full of imaginative details and delightfully quirky illustrations, the narrative arc is not always clear. The story opens with Prudence (a prudent, reserved moose) disapproving as Moxie (a raccoon with an equally apt name) makes “kissy faces” at sharks during a class trip. “Moxie must look funny to the fish , thinks Prudence,” but readers may not be sure why Moxie’s behavior seems wrong to Prudence. Prudence continues to stew as Moxie accepts dare after dare. “It’s always the same: 'I dare you, Moxie’ and 'I bet you won’t.’ She will , thinks Prudence. She always does .” Both friends have their respective fears—for Prudence, thunder; for Moxie, Prudence’s horse (named Thunder)—and both overcome them, a bit too easily, with the other’s help. The pacing is erratic, and a number of red herrings and oddly placed likes and dislikes muddy the waters considerably. Cantone’s (Three Little Ghosties ) watercolor and ink illustrations, full of animals with devious grins and kinetic red scribbles, enliven with witty humor. The eccentric characters have appeal, but readers may find the story a struggle. Ages 5–8. (Apr.)