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OLIVER by Judith Rossell Kirkus Star


by Judith Rossell & illustrated by Judith Rossell

Pub Date: May 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-06-202210-3
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Young Oliver goes down the drain, literally… maybe.

Oliver is a curious soul. He has questions for his mother. If penguins were on vacation, for instance, would they come to stay in his refrigerator? And what, pray tell, lives down the drain and gurgles? “I think it’s HUNGRY,” Oliver suggests. Then he suggests that they feed a banana to whatever it is. “I’m going to poke it down the drain.” Mother: “No, you’re not.” So Oliver builds a submarine and takes it for a ride to see just what the drain is harboring. Here Oliver turns into a kid’s drawing, though handsomely rendered, as is Rossell’s whole book, in watercolor and pencil, with a touch of collage elsewhere; maybe this is all in his head? And what’s down the drain? Penguins, of course. Rossell handles the pacing beautifully, with each new character stage-managed to perfection. The characters themselves are utterly winning. They don’t play to the audience but go about their business with comedic insouciance. And the story does a nice, full circle—when the penguins enter the picture, it’s like having W.C. Fields arrive at your house—though in such a merry, leisurely way it feels serendipitous.

Next time your child asks to shove a banana down the drain, go for it.

(Picture book. 3-7)