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Friday, May 21, 2010

A Sick Day for Amos McGee, written by Philip Stead and illustrated by Erin Stead. Roaring Brook, H B Fenn, 2010. $19.99 ages 4 and up

"Meanwhile at the zoo...
The animals waited for their friend.
The elephant arranged his pawns and polished his castles.
The tortoise stretched his legs and limbered up.
The penguin sat patiently, all by himself.
The rhinoceros worried that his allergies were worsening.
The owl perched atop a tall stack of storybooks,
scratching his head with concern."

Amos McGee's days are pretty mundane to those looking in; but, for Amos, they are filled with fun and fellowship. Amos is a zookeeper extraordinaire. His days at the zoo begin with a visit to his friends. He plays chess with the elephant, runs races with the tortoise, sits silently with the shy penguin, helps the rhino wipe his runny nose, and reads stories to the owl. All in a day's work, thinks Amos.

When the day comes that Amos is ill and must stay at home, the animals discover his true value and they let Amos know in the kindest of ways. They take their show on the road. Elephant prepares the chess board. When Amos is too tired to run races, he and the tortoise play hide-and-seek. Each animal returns the favor that Amos has so often provided them. To their credit, it is just what he needs and soon he is feeling much better.

This is a lovely story of friendship and caring for each other. The tone is quiet and supportive. The artwork matches the mood with its softly muted colors, gentle lines and quiet expressions. Young listeners will enjoy the companionable scenes, especially the final one where Amos sleeps peacefully surrounded by the zoo denizens.

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