Words are precious to Ebenezer, but none more than friendship.
Ebenezer collects words: “linguini,” “disappointment,” “possibility,” “catastrophe.” Words make him giddy but lonely. Other people just don’t understand him. When his family suggests ordinary names like Walter or Skipper for Ebenezer to name his goldfish, he instead decides on Arty, short for Carassius auratus. He considers his sister’s insistence on pink “exhausting.” When his classmates are not excited by words such as “parka” or “clamor,” Ebenezer is despondent. At his favorite library, he meets Fitzgerald, who is brimming over with a head full of stories but who lacks the words to tell them. Together, they form the ideal friendship. Lighthearted illustrations, primarily green, gray, and orange, infuse a note of cartoon humor to this slight story and provide some variety in the skin tones of the children in Ebenezer’s classroom; Ebenezer presents white, and Fitzgerald has brown skin. A few children lack mouths—including Fitzgerald at some points—which seems a bit off-putting at times. Additionally, at a time when the children’s-book industry needs affirming tales for children of color, it seems odd that Fitzgerald is the one in need of words, perhaps hinting at a learning disability. On the other hand, Ebenezer and Fitzgerald complement one another’s abilities. A glossary at the back offers a good learning opportunity for young logophiles.
A simple story about a fortuitous friendship. (Picture book. 4-8)