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A SICK DAY FOR AMOS MCGEE by Philip C. Stead Kirkus Star


by Philip C. Stead & illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Age Range: 2 - 6

Pub Date: May 25th, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-59643-402-8
Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Amos McGee, an elderly zookeeper, enjoys a clockwork life (one teaspoonful of sugar for oatmeal, two for tea and the number five bus to work) until the sniffles force him to stay in bed and miss his daily visits with animal friends. Fragile, gangly Amos, in striped pajamas and ill-fitting zoo uniform, appears as crushingly vulnerable as a child. Children will immediately like and understand him, as they too take comfort in reassuring routines—and would certainly love playing chess with an elephant or running races with a tortoise! Muted greens, browns and blues dominate pages, while brighter yellows and reds leaven the palette’s mild melancholy. Erin E. Stead’s beautifully wrought woodblock prints and pencil work create almost painfully expressive characters. Wrinkles and crinkles describe the elephant’s sagging mass and the rhino’s girth, as well as their keen sensitivity. Owl’s furrowed brow communicates deep concern even as the group heads to Amos’s home to check on him. This gentle, ultimately warm story acknowledges the care and reciprocity behind all good friendships: Much like Amos’s watch, they must be wound regularly to remain true. (Picture book. 2-6)