A perplexed bull ponders the secret of being cute.
Human Tom and bull Alfred have grown up together on a farm, forming a tight friendship. When Tom starts school, Alfred is bored. Then, betrayal: Tom announces he needs a pet that is “absolutely, totally… / …adorable!” Alfred, with his shaggy brown fur and boulder of a body, immediately takes offense. He looks up “adorable” on the farmer’s borrowed phone and finds pictures of fluffy animals in aww-inspiring escapades. Alfred tries to imitate them, with destructive success. Sill stumped, Alfred takes a trip to the hair salon (where readers can see some racial diversity beyond Tom’s white family) for “a new look” that involves lots of curls and bows, but he receives laughter for his troubles. Then Tom offers the discouraged bull a gift: a white kitten! It turns out that Tom’s intention was to give Alfred a friend so he wouldn’t be lonely. As a pair, the animals are “adorable.” The unaffected text never overwhelms the pictures and could offer a transition into independent reading with mostly easily decoded vocabulary. Intentionally juvenile-looking pictures are as rough as Alfred’s temper and as unrefined as his perception of the situation. The characters’ small hands and hooves as well as simplified facial features (small black dots and lines) make them all nonthreatening, matching the book’s sentiment.
Like its protagonist, this book tries hard to be endearing. (Picture book. 3-7)