A little boy comes up with outlandish ways to protect a “treasure” in Fegan’s (The Grumpface, 2017) picture book, illustrated by Wen (The Play Tent of Imagination, 2016, etc.).
The dynamic between siblings, a frequent theme in children’s books, receives an entertaining treatment here. Henry, a young Caucasian boy, is determined to prevent his sibling, Lucy, from getting her hands on his “treasure,” or pocket money. Mom advises Henry to put his money in the bank—and to be nicer to his sister—but Henry wants a more foolproof plan, as he’s sure that Lucy has “secret ninja” talents. Pencil in hand, he designs a 10-step scheme, introducing young readers to ordinal numbers. The plan grows ever wackier, featuring giant robots, a fire-breathing dragon, and assorted monsters and superheroes. Wen whimsically depicts these flights of fancy in pencil and digital paint via two-page spreads and small, stand-alone images. Lucy seems to break through every elaborate trap (although, in reality, she merely enters Henry’s room). What she really wants, and Henry’s reaction to this revelation, provides a touching tribute to the fact that siblings can get along and genuinely care for each other—a message that isn’t always apparent in family entertainment.
Early readers should enjoy this gentle picture book’s fantasy elements and its message of sibling harmony, all delivered with a light, humorous touch.