cover image One of a Kind

One of a Kind

Ariel S. Winter, illus. by David Hitch. S&S/Aladdin, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4424-2016-8

The oft-seen theme of fitting in versus individuality is given an odd twist in this book about a boy who feels unimportant. “Lysander Singleton was the only only child at Twin Oaks Elementary. Everyone else was a twin.” While some of first-time author Winter’s tongue-in-cheek humor is clever, Lysander’s definition of being “important” is shallow (“The only classmates who would be his friends were also unpopular. This left Lysander feeling rather unimportant”), and the prim narration almost defies young readers to understand what’s being said (“The children met with mixed results, but Lysander, practiced at distrust and uncertainty, wasn’t falling for anything.” Hitch’s (Doctor Squash the Doll Doctor) rough-edged digital cartoons add welcome humor as the school’s Twindividuation contest, in which being an only child gives Lysander a chance to shine, allows him to achieve the attention he desires. After Lysander wins every single event, he receives “the individual award for individuality” and is accepted by his peers, but the story’s matter-of-fact prose mutes any real sense of triumph. Ages 4–7. Agent: Chelsea Lindman, the Nicholas Ellison Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Arena Illustration. (June)