Caldecott honoree (They All Saw a Cat, 2016) Wenzel’s graphic love letter to all us earthlings is a hallelujah chorus to life in all its glorious shapes and forms.
Each page is a visual testament to the Sesame Street axiom “different yet the same.” The white cat leads off to the black, which then takes readers to the black bear, the black-and-white panda, the stripey zebra, and its finny eponymous cousin, the zebra fish. This natural progression opens readers’ minds to the fact that we have more in common with one another than not—but for one alarming distinction. Between 200 and 2,000 species are going extinct each year. Wenzel immortalizes his favorite examples of our planet’s exceptional inhabitants, including us, using a variety of artistic media and tools (cut paper, colored pencil, oils, pastels, markers, etc.) to amazing effect. Dynamic images cavorting, reclining, flying, or dancing across and around stark white pages snag both emotions and imaginations. The spare, rhyming text united by the bridging greeting of “Hello” places all creatures on the same interconnected playing field. In the backmatter, the author identifies all his stars on two double-page spreads in order of appearance and notes their status when applicable: vulnerable to critically endangered.
Every one of Wenzel’s beasties, from the “common” house cat to the mouth-dropping whale shark, exhibits an exuberant spark of life that will delight readers everywhere—and hopefully encourage in them an awareness of their plights. (Picture book. 3-10)