cover image The Reader

The Reader

Amy Hest, illus. by Lauren Castillo. Amazon Children’s Publishing, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7614-6184-5

As snow falls gently, Castillo’s (Happy Like Soccer) woodcutlike ink-and-watercolor spreads show a boy in red boots and scarf pulling a sled, accompanied by his dog. Hest (Letters to Leo) doesn’t name the boy; he’s “the reader” of the title. He takes the dog to the top of a hill, unpacks a winter picnic, and opens a book: “The dog waits. It is hard, but he is good at waiting. And then at last the reader reads.” Castillo’s cheerful, red-cheeked boy and his tail-wagging companion will engage younger viewers, while Hest’s spare, lyrical writing seems directed toward an older group (the sled’s “train tracks are impeccably straight. They are beautiful”). Although the read-aloud episode is at the heart of the book, there’s also satisfaction to be had from the boy’s experiments with parenting as he takes his dog on an outing, reads to him like a child, and “wraps the dog in his two strong arms.” A reassuring bedtime entry for a chilly night. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: Paul Rodeen, Rodeen Literary Management. (Oct.)