Thursday, May 10, 2012

One Cool Friend

by Toni Buzzeo
illustrated by David Small
Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin | January 10, 2012

Elliot is a formal little kid with a quirky dad. One Saturday morning, his father asks, "Family Fun Day at the aquarium, shall we go?" and Eliot reluctantly agrees. While there, tuxedo-wearing Elliot asks if he can have a penguin, and Dad hands over the $20, after checking out the price of the stuffed ones for sale. But Elliot slips a real penguin into his backpack, names him Magellan, and brings him home.

He and Magellan build an ice rink, do research at the library, eat loads of anchovy pizza and goldfish crackers, and generally have a fantastic time, all under the seemingly unsuspecting nose of Elliot's somewhat oblivious father, who is busy in his study, which is covered in turtles - it appear Elliot isn't the only animal lover in the family. What happens next is hilarious and everyone will love the joke. You'll want to immediately go back and figure out how you missed it!

David Small, prolific illustrator and author himself, offers black and white line drawings complete with spot color in just the right places - Magellan's scarf, Dad's pajamas, the ice-packs Magellan lays around on. The illustrations vary - some are full page, some are double spreads, and some are smaller. The illustrations add to the story rather than only complement the text, making this picturebook the best kind - one in which there is the story the text tells, the story the illustrations tell, and the story that lies in between.

Pull up a cup of fishy crackers and dive into Elliot and Magellan's world. It's fun here!

Click to enlarge photo. Text reads: "Elliot emptied the school notices from his backpack, selected the smallest penguin..." (next page continues - "and popped it inside.")

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