cover image Mr. Fine Porcupine

Mr. Fine Porcupine

Chronicle Books, Fanny Joly. Chronicle Books, $12.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-1842-1

In this lithe tale from a French team, a lonely porcupine gains confidence when he finds love. Like many a misunderstood hero, Mr. Fine has a scary appearance that doesn't match his amiable disposition. As he rides his red motorbike (called a ""ten-speed"" in the text, despite its evident exhaust pipe) through town, animals leap out of his way. "" `Prickly! Stickly! Porcupine!'/ They'd run, they'd holler, they'd scream, they'd hide."" Variable font sizes and exclamation points convey the creatures' fear and the porcupine's disappointment. Two hedgehogs with spiky blue mohawks help Mr. Fine comb his quills and decorate them with nonthreatening ""berries, cherries and fruit."" Sadly, nothing works--until he meets a girl porcupine, and Joly cheers: ""It's okay if your hair is pink, short, tall or blue./ Someone will love you for just being you!"" Saillard's high-contrast illustrations feature sharp black lines and a pointed sense of humor. An errant quill pokes a bee in the behind, for instance, and a happy Mr. Fine tows a Valentine cactus to his dearest. The happily-ever-after ending finds the Fines married with a litter of six. Ages 2-6. (Oct.)