Bullies meet their very polite match in this quirky new picture book for young readers.
Author and illustrator Helms (Who’s New, 2016, etc.) returns to Ponderville, the setting of her previous children’s books for early readers—a strange, whimsical place where the inhabitants impart messages of friendship. This time around, the happy Ponderville residents are alerted to the imminent arrival of a quartet of “noisy, rowdy, greedy, rough and wild” Polygonsters—depicted as jagged, two-dimensional shapes with cranky faces. Readers are shown what happened the last time the bullying Polygonsters were in town: they trampled the garden, raided the Tea House, and overturned shelves and scattered books at the library. What will Ponderville do this time? One disgruntled character urges his friends to give the Polygonsters a taste of their own medicine (“we will be mean…we will be rude”). His fellow villagers have a different idea. First, they ensure that the Polygonsters will have no access to the places where they wreaked havoc before by simply shutting doors and posting “closed” signs. Then they disarm the invaders with politeness and generosity, greeting them with gifts of books, flowers, and tasty Tea House goodies. This does the trick, and the marauders trundle home with their presents. This book offers a gentle lesson in conflict resolution, although more jaded adults may wonder if the Polygonsters have actually hit upon a lucrative protection racket. Helms’ illustrations mix bright colors and ample white space, and they’re complemented by interesting placements of text that include dialogue in comic-strip–style balloons. The humorous sound effects (“glurp,” “hoo-wah”) invite repetition, and numerous typefaces and the author’s effective use of margins will keep readers’ interest high. Overall, the offbeat world of Helms’ imagination offers pleasant lessons wrapped up in visual and verbal fun.
A kids’ tale with enjoyably eccentric visuals and a message of civility and forgiveness.