Paul, a young, anthropomorphic fox, is given a ukulele as a present, which leads to life adventures.
After Paul’s parents give him a ukulele for his birthday, he learns to play and practices regularly. As the years go by, he becomes accomplished and eventually feels the urge to travel. He and his ukulele visit cities, the countryside, and small towns, where he plays and meets others. When his ukulele breaks (and is fixed) he decides to settle down and open up a music shop. It’s a classic journey story, but the ending—a promise of romantic attachment—may be over the heads or interests of young readers. Kocsmiersky’s watercolor-and-ink illustrations have a fine sense of light that enhances her detailed cityscapes, interiors, and landscapes. She depicts all the story’s characters as anthropomorphic animals; however only their heads and tails are animallike. Torsos, limbs, proportions, and clothing are human, including fingers and opposable thumbs. The look is a bit unsettling, like humans with animal trophy-heads on their shoulders. It’s also disconcerting that, while the illustrations feature a diversity of anthropomorphic animal characters, couples and families are shown only as of the same species; and in fact, Paul’s love interest at the end of the story is, indeed, another (female) fox.
A story whose marriage-plot arc may not feel relevant to young readers and whose illustrations exclude interracial families and same-sex parents. (Picture book. 4-8)