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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

One Cool Friend, written by Toni Buzzeo and illustrated by David Small. Dial, Penguin. 2012. $19.50 ages 5 and up

"Elliot and Magellan rode to the library. When Elliot set him on the librarian's desk, Magellan held completely still. Ms. Stanbridge didn't blink an eye - even when Magellan blinked his."

Elliott's father seems preoccupied with things other than his son. Elliott seems to be content with that. He is after all ' a very proper young man',  happily reading to a large group of stuffed animals while his father scans the dailies. His father's invitation to join him in visiting the aquarium is a surprise and an intrusion; but, Elliott agrees to go. Once there, he finds his way past the mobs of visitors to the quiet environs of the penguin exhibit. He is entranced!

They are Magellans, and he wants one. His father, who sits beside a poster offering plush penguins for $19.95, is agreeable to Elliott's request and hands over the twenty. Elliott makes his way back, chooses his favorite and puts Magellan (aptly named, don't you agree?) in his backpack for transport. Once there, it is pretty easy to make his new pal comfortable without anyone being the wiser. Dad is always busy with something or other, while Elliott makes certain that his pet has all the comforts of home...a skating rink, ice, Goldfish crackers, even anchovy pizza and a perfect place to sleep. What else is there?

When Elliott and his father do converse, the dialogue is vague. Elliott tells his father about his Magellan research and father tells him that he did the same, at the same age, with Captain Cook. The days pass with Dad none the wiser until his bath time coincides with that of Magellan. It is a rude awakening. Funny then that he has a little surprise of his own!

This is a book that only gets better with the next, and then the next, reading. The artwork created by the incomparable David Small adds gentle touches of humor at every turn. There are hints about Captain Cook that might only be obvious upon reading the book again and really looking at each and every image. It is in a perfect picture book that text and art hold equal sway for making that book memorable. Both artists do an impeccable job of bringing us a tale to be told with wonder.

Thanks to both!

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