When Zogby, a big, brown bear, applies for a job as delivery bear—a job he has wanted since he was a “tiny cub”—the hiring manager, a small, purple rabbit, says, “You just don’t have the Fluffy Tail Cookies look.”
It is striking for a picture book to open with this sort of reference; the manager seems to be outright discriminating against Zogby. Still, Zogby pleads for a chance, and the manager gives him a one-day trial. His clients are terrified of Zogby once they see him: Mrs. Rabbit and Mr. Beaver each scream, “AAHHHHH!!” upon opening their doors. Zogby alters his appearance after these rejections, donning bunny ears and a fluffy tail. He finally reminds himself that he is “special” and makes up a song to go along with his newfound confidence: “I am big, and I am hairy! / But I promise, I’m not scary!” Mrs. Mole and Mr. Porcupine then accept his cookie deliveries with grace and hospitality. It’s a peculiar resolution to an awkward book: The animals in this story are prejudiced against Zogby’s appearance, but it is up to Zogby to ameliorate their fears. The burden, it seems, lies with the oppressed rather than the oppressor, making this a very unprogressive tale. Sordo’s bright, cartoonish illustrations are zippy but can’t mitigate its central flaw.
Competent but profoundly uninspiring. (Picture book. 3-7)