cover image Gerbil, Uncurled

Gerbil, Uncurled

Alison Hughes, illus. by Suzanne Del Rizzo. Fitzhenry & Whiteside, $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-55455-332-7

Little Gerbil lives in a cozy habitat with her family, but rather than sleeping curled up “nose to toes” like her brethren, she prefers to stretch out, basking in the sun. This is in direct violation of one of five Gerbil Mottos (others include “Always Keep Your Whiskers Clean” and “Celery Tops Come to Those Who Wait”), and it causes Little Gerbil no small amount of stress. This may sound like a scanty premise, and it is, yet Hughes (Lost in the Backyard) uses dry humor (“Little Gerbil was miserable. She was living a gerbil lie”) and her heroine’s perceptiveness and bravery to grow the story into a thoughtful, rodent-centric take on the idea of being the change one wishes to see. If you don’t like society’s rules—whether that society is human or gerbil—why not work to change them? Del Rizzo’s sculptural Plasticine artwork, the same medium she used in Skink on the Brink, adds greatly to the book’s charm and fun, and a closing spread offers readers gerbil facts and instructions for making Plasticine gerbils of their own. Ages 4–7. (Nov.)