cover image No Buddy Like a Book

No Buddy Like a Book

Allan Wolf, illus. by Brianne Farley. Candlewick, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5362-0307-3

In this snappy addition to the shelf of book-extolling books, Wolf (The Snow Fell Three Graves Deep) supplies a string of examples showing how books can teach and enlighten. An unnamed narrator vacillates between offering cheery advice (“So step aboard the Book Express./ It’s waiting at the station”) and divulging things learned in volumes read (“We learn why icebergs stay afloat.../ and why Titanics sink”). A group of children of various ethnicities, including a brown-skinned child with low sight, make a series of book-led discoveries. Two of the gang sail off in a balloon to a celestial city of domed towers as others build a rocket booster and make a pinhole camera, which Farley (Dozens of Doughnuts) draws in enough detail for readers to try making themselves. Others explore the globe (“I’ve anteloped in Africa/ and kissed a crocodile/ as I was sailing all alone/ along the river Nile”) and encounter spectacular bird specimens in a museum. Though colonialist-explorer elements sound dated, Wolf’s playful tone keeps the loosely associated episodes powering forward. Sturdy, stubby-nosed characters by Farley, meanwhile, beguile, and fantasy landscapes divert, including a wondrous spread that reimagines the constellations. Ages 4–8. [em](Feb.) [/em]