cover image My Guncle and Me

My Guncle and Me

Jonathan Merritt, illus. by Joanna Carillo. Running Press, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7624-8561-1

Henry Higgleston, sporting glasses and a green dinosaur hoodie, feels out of place at school, where “how I walk, talk, and dress/ Makes me seem so uncool.” This changes with a weekend visit from Henry’s “most fabulous/ Relative// my guncle” and his pup Jimmy Chew. The stay involves the relative listening to and comforting Henry, providing activities including a dance party and zoo visit, and modeling self-confidence at church. Departing with advice (“Keep being yourself/ Even when you are grown”), Henry’s guncle inspires the child to both be themself and connect with others. Pastel-hued illustrations from Carillo reinforce the gentle encouragement of Merritt’s rigorously rhyming couplets, which occasionally incorporate religious undertones (Henry communicates that “you can be who God made you,/ Whatever you are”). Throughout, what’s undeniable is the powerful love shown by Henry’s guncle, and the way spending time with a beloved role model can make all the difference. Protagonists are portrayed with pale skin; background characters have various skin tones. Ages 4–8. (May)