- Armadillo and Hare: Tales from the Forest by Jeremy Strong
Strong, Jeremy Armadillo and Hare: Tales from the Forest; illus. by Rebecca Bagley. Fickling/Scholastic, 2020 [160p] Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-338-54059-8 $16.99 E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-338-60838-0 $10.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 2-4
Ten accessible, episodic chapters introduce young readers to odd couple Armadillo and Hare. Armadillo is slightly cranky and Hare a bit strange, and while we've certainly [End Page 231] seen these tropes before, Strong refreshes them with some playful absurdity, with Armadillo obsessed with painting cheese sandwiches and Hare playing a tuba that pops out flames, butterflies, cabbage, etc. The charming friends are supported by an equally charming secondary cast, as Wombat bops along on her bicycle and does odd jobs (primarily fixing refrigerator lights), Elephant browses Hare and Armadillo's house (eventually destroying a wall), and Jaguar seeks a friend that he won't be tempted to eat. The vocabulary here will certainly test young readers' skills ("illuminated," "liquid" and "phenomenal" are sample stretches) but the gentle, goofy humor will give them a reason to stay. Bagley's airily humorous black and white art perfectly captures the anthropomorphized animals. This is an obvious sell to fans of Frog and Toad, but fans of DiCamillo and McGhee's Bink and Gollie (BCCB 10/10, etc.) may also find these pals easy to befriend.