Move over Clifford the Big Red Dog—here’s a new take on the big-pet story.
As the dark-skinned narrator approaches a booth at a fair, “practical” parents close behind, the child says, “I have to win this goldfish,” because practicality prohibits “anything fluffy. Or shaggy. Or feathery. Or that eats mice.” When the tossed coin lands not in a fishbowl at the booth but in a tiny, glass bowl at the back of the display, the barker proclaims, “You won Nuncio!” (who turns out to be a whale). The child’s parents aren’t happy, but they are “very, very fair” so they agree to bring Nuncio home, “on a trial basis.” At first, they find having a whale in their backyard to be a trial. Even the proud owner is none-too-happy about cleaning out the pool. But then they discover that Nuncio can help them in practical ways—like spraying water from his blowhole to help wash the car, for example—and all’s well that ends well. That the family is of color is never noted in the text, but it’s a welcome, matter-of-fact characterization detail conveyed through illustrations. Throughout, the pictures go along with the story’s absurd premise and augment the humor of the text by employing a flat, cartoon aesthetic and bright colors.
A whale of a tale. (Picture book. 4-7)