Blake follows her first picture book about Simon the Super Rabbit, I Don’t Want to Go to School (2009), with a disappointingly underdeveloped story about two friends and their toys.
Perhaps something got lost in translation? Initially published in France as Donner c’est donner, the story opens with Simon, “a mischievous little rabbit,” going to visit his friend Ferdinand. He brings three toy cars, and the friends immediately start negotiating a trade. Simon’s favorite color is red, and since his cars are yellow, green and blue, he wants Ferdinand’s red one. He ultimately trades his three toys for Ferdinand’s one red car (Ferdinand maintains that it is "extraordinary"), both rabbits committing to the bargain: “A deal’s a deal.” Upon getting home, Simon’s little brother calls the red car “ugwy,” and then it breaks as soon as he plays with it. A suspicious and disappointed Simon devises a plan to reverse the trade, telling Ferdinand that he left something in it. Ferdinand falls for the trick and does end up finding something inside the car; a page turn tells readers that it is “A booger.” And that’s…it. Adults may find much to ponder about the art of negotiation; children after resolution will just find it mean spirited.
While Blake’s vibrantly colored, childlike pictures are appealing, the text lacks a certain je ne sais quois. (Picture book. 3-5)