cover image The Five of Us

The Five of Us

Quentin Blake. Tate (Abrams, dist.), $19.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-84976-304-2

With his customarily exuberant ink-and-watercolor illustrations, acclaimed author-artist Blake introduces a diverse quintet of "amazing" children with distinct supernatural abilities. Angie, with brown skin and a curly ponytail, "could see a sparrow sitting on top of a statue five miles away." Her friend Ollie wears glasses, but his sense of hearing is equally powerful, and Mario (who uses a wheelchair) and Simona "could lift anything you could think of." Rounding out the group is quiet Eric, who says little besides "erm," but is just as amazing, Blake assures readers. During a bus trip to the countryside, their older companion/driver falls ill; Eric comes through when he's needed most, letting loose a booming "HELP!" that results in a cliff-top helicopter rescue. It isn't entirely clear whether Blake intends to show Eric as developmentally disabled, a stutterer, or simply a bit of an introvert. All are reasonable interpretations, but the message about talents coming in all shapes and sizes (and from all sorts of people) is loud and clear, regardless%E2%80%94just like Eric himself when the situation calls for it. Ages 3%E2%80%937. (Mar.)