cover image No Nibbling

No Nibbling

Beth Ferry, illus. by A.N. Kang. Roaring Brook, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-250-76241-2

Derwood, a pince nez–wearing billy goat, seems a preternaturally calm gardener. With his planting done, he sits in a chair atop the freshly tilled ground with a cup of tea in his lap: “Wait. Grow, grow,” writes Ferry (Swashby and the Sea). And grow the garden does: in Kang’s (My Big Bad Monster) watercolor-like digital pictures, which are as meticulous as the story’s protagonist, the early pages’ spare compositions give way to a sylvan festival of lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and squash. But the garden also brings out the anti-pest curmudgeon in Derwood, and he’s soon tangling with a persistent bunny named Tabitha. Her attentiveness and politeness resonate with the lonely goat (she hangs on to every word as he expounds on the nuances of precipitation), but her slips into vegetable wordplay—“Mama said I’d butter bean home soon”—seems to reveal nefarious nibbling intentions. Is Tabitha’s innate rabbitiness a friendship deal-breaker? With the lightest of touches, the creators show how the give and take of friendship is itself a kind of cultivation, and that the results can be highly nourishing. Ages 4–7. Agent (for Ferry and Kang): Elena Giovinazzo, Pippin Properties. (Feb.)