cover image You Go First

You Go First

Ariel Bernstein, illus. by Marc Rosenthal. S&S/Wiseman, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-6659-1151-1

There’s a new, taller, curvier slide on the playground, and close friends Cat and Duck have two very different feelings about it: Duck is outwardly eager, and Cat clearly is not, though the kitty doesn’t admit it. In the name of being “a very good friend,” Cat suggests that Duck consider the other playground options: “Duck, do you want to go on the swings first? Or in the sandbox? The sand is looking very sandy today.” Finally, after creating several delays, and insisting Duck don wholly unnecessary protective gear, Cat’s anxieties pour out. “Duck, I must warn you. If you go down that slide, you may fall! And scream! And cry!” Duck sadly acquiesces, “even if I was looking forward to it,” but the story keeps going, ending on a note of small triumph for both of the friends. In a second match-up from collaborators Bernstein and Rosenthal (We Love Fishing!), character-forward playground vignettes, rendered in sturdy pencil outlines and cheery digital color, are comically in sync with the interplay and mood of the deadpan, emotionally astute narration and dialogue. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Sean McCarthy, Sean McCarthy Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. (June)