Shorty suffers an overwhelming ethical dilemma when a mysterious package arrives for the temporarily absent Clem.
The two make unusual companions, as Clem is an owlish bird and Shorty, a big, green dinosaur. Their personalities are equally divergent. No sooner has the bird stepped out with an “I’ll be back!” than a box addressed to Clem appears. “I will not open Clem’s package,” says Shorty virtuously. But that doesn’t mean that the box itself can’t be ridden (maybe there’s a race car inside!), jumped on (a trampoline?), and vigorously pounded (bongos, maybe?). Eventually the increasingly battered carton surrenders its contents—a pair of pink monkey slippers. “I opened Clem’s package,” Shorty wails. “He is going to be so mad.” Instead, after a show of annoyance, Clem hoots, “Happy Birthday!” After a page turn, he continues, “I knew you would open the package. I know how much you love monkeys.” Slack renders both roomies and the simple speech-balloon dialogue (the book’s sole text aside from sound effects and the address on Clem’s package) with blocky minimalism, comically contrasting Clem’s steady, grave air with Shorty’s exaggerated gestures and broad emotions. The grateful green one’s “Not as much as I love you” brings this high-energy romp to a cozy close.
Understandable, if not exactly model, behavior makes for a funny, sympathetic read. (Picture book. 4-7)