cover image The Lonely Beast

The Lonely Beast

Chris Judge. Andersen Press USA (Lerner, dist.), $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7613-8097-9

The eponymous beast is a walking silhouette, with two round, yellow dots for eyes as the only distinguishing feature in his otherwise shaggy, flat black form. Yearning for connection with his own kind ("they are so rare that there is only one Beast in each country... and they don't even know one another"), the Beast goes on a long and arduous quest, exhibiting a Keatonesque physicality and stoicism that's both poignant and funny. Arriving in a human city, he becomes a local favorite, a noted horticulturist, and even a media star ("He talked about his great journey to the city and his search for other Beasts"). Yet Beast can't shake that fish-out-of-water feeling%E2%80%94is sui generis really his destiny? Judge, an illustrator making his picture book debut, isn't entirely successful in keeping his deadpan, reportorial prose from feeling flat and literal, and the happy, Beast-filled ending feels too abrupt and pat. But the Beast has a shaggy charm, and his story could even stir up a discussion about the interplay between acceptance and tribalism. Ages 4%E2%80%939. (Sept.)