When a boy heads to the study, ordered to “think things over,” he begins a relationship with a book that becomes special to him, even if it has no “proper jacket.”
When the boy—initially sporting a scowl and a slouch—first opens the good little book, Arbona presents a compelling, sequential, aerial view of a sullen child who nonetheless becomes fascinated by reading. Vivid, fantastical artwork augments the ensuing, almost obligatory sentences about book-induced trips to faraway places and varied emotions. As the seasons pass, the book “didn’t turn him into a bookish boy, or improve his naughty behavior, but it did become a loyal companion.” At the story’s climax—“The boy lost his favorite book”—the boy seeks help in a crowd of people who appear as bizarre as the creatures in his book, thanks to the bold, colorful, absurdist artwork. It is easy to imagine an actor with an upper-class British accent reading the wryly humorous text: “The boy sought help but discovered that very few people have time for a lost book—no matter how good or little it might be.” The simple plot reaches a conclusion rife with bibliophilic didacticism, but the humor and art along the way create an enjoyable romp.
In a decade of de rigueur picture books praising books, it is primarily the artwork that sets this one apart. (Picture book. 4-8)