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by Laura Malone Elliott & illustrated by Lynn Munsinger

Pub Date: July 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-06-000230-1
Publisher: HarperCollins

Hunter wonders what to do when his best friend Stripe decides to be naughty at school and expects Hunter to join in on the roguish behavior. After all, as best buddies, Hunter and Stripe have always done things together; from clothes to food, their interests and activities were always on par. Elliott (Under a War-torn Sky, not reviewed) sympathetically addresses the prickly topic of peer pressure from a child’s perspective, revealing how easy it is for the well-intentioned to slide into trouble just by going with the flow. Initially, Hunter finds Stripe’s antics humorous and easily participates. Yet, when Stripe encourages him to destroy an art project, Hunter finds himself on the horns of a dilemma. Although he is proud of his artwork, Hunter wrecks his project, instantly feeling remorse. With the guidance of his teacher and mother, Hunter learns a critical lesson regarding the importance of staying true to one’s self. Bolstered by the affirmation of the adults around him, he resolves to provide a stellar example of good behavior for his wayward pal. Munsinger’s (Tackylocks and the Three Bears, below, etc.) anthropomorphic raccoons are irresistibly cute and cuddly. The accouterments of early childhood education are liberally scattered throughout the illustrations, depicting a familiar setting for young readers. Elliot does a remarkable job portraying how difficult it is for Hunter to resist Stripe’s entreaties and later, not react to his teasing. Readers will readily respond to Hunter’s dilemma and be reassured by his ultimate success. (Picture book. 4-7)