A smooth-faced gnome embraces being different.
Everygnome is preparing for the most important event of the year, the Beards International Gnome-athlon. Unlike most gnomes, Al can’t grow a beard. How will he win a trophy for Longest Beard, Bushiest Beard, or even Overall Best Beard? Luckily, Al gets an idea…but it doesn’t go over too well. His long “beard”—made out of tiny white butterflies—flitters away during the first contest. During the second contest, his red bushy “beard” scampers away when the judge exposes the squirrel hiding beneath Al’s hat. And his third “beard” falls before the moss can stick! Defeated, Al returns home to trim some shrubbery. When Gnorm, Al’s best friend, needs help with cutting tree sap out of his beard, Al gets to work, trimming Gnorm’s beard into a snappy (and different) new shape. Gnorm’s new beard impresses the other gnomes, and soon Al’s in very high demand. The story here leads up to a predictably upbeat ending, but Mayer wrings a lot of charm out of a thin setup, specifically through a humorous narrative voice. Full of soft colors and gentle curves, Horton’s illustrations brim with detail, from each individual gnome (mostly light-skinned, including Al and Gnorm, though there are some brown-skinned ones) to the overabundant greenery. Though the story’s central message falls a tad flat, it offers younger readers clear enough hope that it’s OK to be different.
Mostly gnomerrific. (Picture book. 3-7)