Sunday, March 24, 2013

Award Winning Books - Review of ONE COOL FRIEND

One Cool Friend  by Toni Buzzeo

Illustrated by David Small

Dial Books for Young Readers, 2012

New York Times Best Seller
2013 Caldecott Honor Book
2013 ALA Notable Children’s Book
Dolly Parton Imagination Library Selection

One Cool Friend is a delight, pure and simple. But there is nothing simplistic about the picture book magic created in this perfect marriage of text and art. The concept of communication is key to the story, and it’s the underlying conversation that doesn’t quite make it onto the page that creates a satisfying joke.

Young Elliot is a most polite and proper child. He refrains from saying what he actually means – I’d rather read at home by myself than visit a noisy, crowded aquarium, Dad – and takes to heart his Dad’s instruction to “have fun” at the aquarium. When Elliot asks for a penguin, again he doesn’t quite communicate what he is really thinking. Picture a wading pool turned ice rink in an air conditioned bedroom to keep Elliot’s new pet happy.

Buzzeo’s masterful skill with the text gives readers just what they need to know one page spread at a time. Of course, it’s all hilarious for kids because Caldecott medalist David Small’s pictures show them what’s going on, even if Elliot’s dad seems clueless. It’s the twist ending that sends adults back to the beginning to see what they missed.

When you re-read to absorb the story all over again, take your time and savor the nuances in both text and art. Your young reader friend will be begging you to read it again, anyway. One Cool Friend is a keeper. That’s why it wears a Caldecott Honor seal.

Visit Toni Buzzeo’s website to learn about this talented and prolific author. Check out David Small’s website for a look at the over forty picture books he has illustrated and an online sketchbook.

 After reading One Cool Friend, travel over to Jules' terrific blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast for a wonderful look at the evolution/development of David Small's sketches for this book.

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