cover image The Wrong Overcoat

The Wrong Overcoat

Hiawyn Oram. Carolrhoda Books, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-57505-453-7

In this lukewarm offering from a London duo, a boy chimpanzee looks askance at the gold-buttoned, double-breasted purple coat that his mother buys for him. Chimp's family adores the coat, and his friendsDa leopard in a red windbreaker, a dog in a blue trenchcoat and a yellow macaw in a green jacketDassure him, ""Hey, that's a cool coat."" Nevertheless, Chimp trips over the garment's floor-length hem, and he fails at bowling because his tight sleeves grip his arms. When he trades his threads for an orange-checkered, blue-buttoned number, his family unanimously declares the new item ""altogether the wrong coat."" Chimp replies, ""For YOU! And altogether the right coat for ME!"" Oram shifts the title's meaning, showing that ""right"" and ""wrong"" are relative, although parents may be wary when Chimp takes matters into his own hands. Birchall's offbeat illustrations take advantage of eccentric angles, shallow curves and flattened planes. However, the watercolors look washed out, and a plodding, predictable page design slackens the pace. Despite a credible premise, this story of human-like apes (who go bowling and sit down to tea) makes an awkward fit. Ages 5-8. (May)