cover image I Need My Own Country!

I Need My Own Country!

Rick Walton, illus. by Wes Hargis. Bloomsbury, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-59990-560-0

Civics need not be a snooze, as Walton (Baby’s First Year) and Hargis (When I Grow Up) prove. Their collaboration opens with a declaration of independence by a curly-haired narrator who’s consumed by revolutionary fervor thanks to her annoying younger brother: “There comes a time in all kids’ lives when they need to create their own country.” Thus the nation of “My Roomania” is founded, complete with a flag, laws, currency, national anthem (“My Roomania is the Best/ My Little Brother is a Pest!”) and cabinet (the cat is “Secretary of Mice”). But running a nation is no walk in the park, what with “civil unrest” (Citizen Dog and Citizen Cat just can’t get along) and the threat of invasion by her brother. Perhaps some realpolitik and compromise is in order. Hargis’s watercolor-and-ink cartoons are a smart match for Walton’s succinct, sly prose; the images have the ring of domestic authenticity and just a touch of the absurd, with expressive characters that never let a crisis go to waste—even the goldfish (Secretary of the Navy, naturally) looks ready for battle. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)