cover image The New Kid Has Fleas

The New Kid Has Fleas

Ame Dyckman, illus. by Eda Kaban. Roaring Brook, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-250-24524-3

Like other classmates, this picture book’s narrator, a white child with brown hair, doesn’t go out of the way to welcome the New Kid, a red-haired girl who eschews shoes, casts a canine shadow, and howls during music class. Soon, the class mean girl declares that the New Kid has fleas. “Nobody really talks to the New Kid. But she doesn’t care,” reads the text as the student sits alone during recess. “Well, I don’t think she does.” When the narrator and the New Kid are thrown together as science project buddies, it becomes clear that the latter is literally being raised by wolves. But while her family may seem different (their study break snack is roasted squirrel, freshly caught), they’re also warm and welcoming, and the New Kid proves a smart, funny partner without “a single flea.” Kaban’s digitally painted, closely observed cartoons of kid life and Dyckman’s deadpan narration combine to deftly address important issues of prejudice and giving the unfamiliar a chance. Ages 3–6. (June)