- AdoraBULL by Alison Donald
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-84886-412-2 $17.99
R 4-7 yrs
Alfred the bull is quite confident in his friendship with farm kiddo Tom—until, that is, the little boy comes home from school declaring he needs a pet and it must be adorable. Not quite sure what the word means, Alfred does what anyone would do: he looks it up on a smartphone (borrowed from the farmer). The picture of a goat pushing another goat in a shopping cart is indeed charming, but Alfred's attempt to mimic that adorableness by pushing a calf in a wheelbarrow is more disastrous than delightful, as are his subsequent efforts at meme mimicking. It turns out, though, Tom was looking for a perky pal not to replace Alfred but to befriend and keep Alfred company while Tom is at school. A wonderful silliness refreshes the "just be yourself" trope here, and the gentle poking at internet wholesomeness manages the ironic feat of including utterly precious images (who doesn't love a dog in a teacup?) with a subtle undercurrent of "really??" Illustrations have the definition of colored pencil and the gentle warmth of watercolor, and the larger spreads and full bleeds are rich with visual humor. Shaggy Alfred the Highland bull is pretty darn appealing, and two dot eyes and a slash of eyebrow easily convey his disdain for the entire enterprise of cuteness as well as his need for Tom's love. A perfect blend of charm and snark makes this an endearing storytime choice.