The axolotl-cheerleader picture book you didn’t know you were waiting for.
Dewdrop is an anthropomorphic axolotl whose friends are preparing for an underwater “sports festival.” Only Mia, “a weightlifting turtle,” seems involved in any sportsmanship, though, preparing rigorously for a “pebble-throwing contest.” Newman, a newt, is writing “a song to cheer everyone on,” and three minnows are “in charge of food.” As for Dewdrop, the pink, frilled amphibian is “working hard on a cheerleading routine.” While the routine may be intended for contenders in the sports festival, Dewdrop ends up cheering on the other characters as they engage in their own preparations. Dewdrop’s encouraging presence helps them fend off worries and self-doubts. The text in this graphic-novel picture book is delivered via speech balloons, and the cheery comics-style illustrations with their big-eyed characters will capture readers’ attention; Dewdrop is adorable (almost) to the point of twee. Though anthropomorphic, these characters go largely unclothed save Mia’s flower-bedecked sweatband. The underwater setting is mostly cued by gently waving lake plants, though the postures of the minnows as they cook (in impossible cauldrons, but no matter) do give a sense of buoyancy. Although axolotls occur only in Mexico, characterizations are generically normative, with no sense of ethnic distinctiveness.
Playful, friendly, goodhearted fun. (Picture book. 4-7)