A girl overcomes fears and helps her favorite friend.
Olive has a BFF—Hoot, a large, chubby toy owl. Olive likes her excitement in books, while Hoot’s eager for genuine adventures. When Hoot tells Olive he’s prepared a surprise for her that “could be a small bit scary,” she’s wary, declaring that she isn’t as brave as he. A balloon-powered flight higher than Olive appreciates ensues, as does a speedy boat ride. Through both exploits, Hoot reminds scared Olive he’ll keep her safe. Then Hoot discovers his bottom’s torn; he’s lost stuffing. Olive now declares she’ll “be brave enough for both of us.” Leading them both safely home, she repairs the rip. While sweet, this friendship story may confuse readers. Is Olive imagining the adventures, with Hoot the stand-in for her courage, or have the thrilling feats been propelled by the toy’s own agency? Kids may not mind, but some adults might frown that a girl repeatedly protests fearfulness while a male demonstrates daring ingenuity. Finally, what’s brave about walking home and sewing (another stereotyped female activity)? The artwork (rendered in watercolors, pen, and ink, and with colors added digitally) fares better, the illustrations displaying colorful, sweeping spreads and commanding aerial perspectives; occasionally, more-intimate black-line sketches appear in margins with text. Olive has pale skin, ruddy cheeks, button eyes, and wind-blown brown locks.
A well-meaning but just so-so friendship story. (Picture book. 3-6)