From Germany, a portrait gallery of regular people—each with “something that makes them unique, special, and interesting.”
The narrator introduces himself as “Theo” and then goes on to introduce 22 further named residents of his seaside town. One is a dog, and most of the blocky human figures in Casal’s serigraphic-style illustrations sport light complexions. Still, some, such as Ayaan, who once filled the back of his pickup with water for beloved nephews Ismail and Rashid to splash in, and dark-skinned Lorca, listening raptly as his paper-white dad, Deshaun, recites poetry on their daily walk to school, stir a bit of diversity into the mix. Certain figures seem typecast—cat lady Emily, for instance, and “laidback dude” Mike, always up for “a most tubular day of surfing”—but the descriptive comments offered for one and all elevate common traits or occupations into something admirable, or at least distinctive. Alexandra the potter “shapes beautiful and useful objects that please our senses.” Sara the bookstore owner “always finds the right book for me.” Flamboyant Zaza is invited to every event because “when he has arrived, so has the party!” To readers who think the people in their own lives have nothing similar to offer, Theo closes with a suggestion that closer looks might be unexpectedly rewarding.
A gentle reminder that everyone is worth valuing—even those without superpowers, exotic skills, wealth, dramatic pasts, or hordes of online friends. (Picture book. 6-8)