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Monday, June 25, 2012

Now We Are Cool, written and illustrated by Susann Opel-Gotz. Translated by Annette Hinrichs-Pymm. Fitzhenry & Whtieside, 2012. $18.95 ages 6 and up

"COOL people listen to very
loud, angry music all day long, until their ears ring," answered Leo.

"Why do they do that?"

"So they can't hear when their dads yell at them for watching horror movies. Or when their moms ask if they are going on another field trip."

Being cool - that seems like something two brothers might want to be together. Looking at the front cover you would think that is exactly what they are. It takes time and a lot of deep thought to make it happen.

Leo is definitely the leader. His little brother Mug follows along, with some trepidation. Looking different is only the beginning. Sunglasses should do it:

"Cool people wear sunglasses all day. Even when it rains! Even in the bathroom!"

Oh, and they stay up late. They watch grown-up movies with monsters and vampires and...

Once you look cool, you want to talk cool:

"Hey man, gimme a pitch-black belly blaster - and make it snappy!"

Wearing cool backpacks, listening to totally different music that makes ears ring from the volume, not being able to hear parental questions, having new, scary, and even poisonous pets will add to the cool factor. The list goes on and on.

It isn't far into the conversation before the boys begin to seriously consider some of the pitfalls of being too cool:

"And with scary spiders in my room, I wouldn't be able to fall asleep." whispered Mug.
"Yeah. And wearing a knitted hat all day would make my head itch," moaned Leo.
"And I really like to watch cartoons. Even if they don't make my hair stick up straight."

Soon, playing together seems the coolest thing for two brothers to be doing. And, it is.

This is bound to become a favorite. The text is charming and a great deal of fun to read aloud. There is much to be made of being Cool! The mixed media illustrations are full of cool, with sunglass-wearing ocean critters diving headlong into a newspaper boat, monsters hiding from the scariness of movies, a motley crew of aptly named cool friends, harried's too much.

Full of cool and comedy in its many detailed scenes, this is an author whose work I am going to search out. This is the first book that she has written and illustrated, but it is written that she has illustrated many books in Germany where she lives. On with the search.

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