The prolific Willis’ offbeat fable of cooperation and sharing features a solitary green, bipedal, two-armed, sluglike being called a Slodge.
The Slodge’s sleepy, squelchy progress out of a slime pit is followed by yawns, scratches and a proprietary survey of the unpopulated landscape. The self-satisfied Slodge gambols about, laying claim to everything from the sunrise to the fruit trees. “Mine, all mine!” All is good until another Slodge, a male, appears on the second day (of creation?). Escalating from a possessive-pronoun throwdown, the first fight erupts. Armageddon appears imminent until a jaundiced, toothy, seagoing Snawk has the temerity to target the first Slodge as she plunges into its domain. The boy Slodge saves the day with a battle cry of “That’s my Slodge!” Desmond’s primarily blue- and green-hued digital mixed-media art (collage, paint and colored pencil) populates the world with myriad fantastical creatures once peace is declared. “The world didn’t belong to anyone. / It belonged to everyone. / It was there to share.” The Slodges unite in an accelerated and, one assumes, successful friendship, because one page-turn later, there are suddenly 72 romping children and more on the way.
From the primordial ooze to the red fruit, the illustrations serve to reinforce the Adam and Eve metaphor, and the whole thing may leave readers rooting for the serpentlike Snawk. (Picture book. 4-7)