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Review of I Don’t Like Koala

ferrell_i don't like koalaI Don’t Like Koala
by Sean Ferrell; illus. by Charles Santoso
Preschool, Primary   Atheneum   40 pp.
4/15   978-1-4814-0068-8   17.99   g
e-book ed. 978-1-4814-0069-5   $12.99

Picture this front-matter illustration: a boxed gift neatly tied up with red ribbon. An eager little boy with arms outstretched. It’s a perfect Kodak (ahem, make that smart-phone) moment. But when the lid comes off the gift box, revealing a plush toy koala, all the white space between the boy, Adam, and the stuffed animal speaks volumes. With a page turn, readers meet Koala, up close and personal. His piercing yellow eyes are uncanny, especially the left one, with its squished oblong shape and pupil eerily askew. Even worse, those eyes seem to follow Adam everywhere. His parents just don’t get it, so he takes matters into his own hands, stowing Koala away each night: in a pot, on top of the refrigerator, in a laundry basket — anywhere but with him. Santoso’s double-page spread of different hiding places — all with Koala poking out in floppy slapstick poses — is sure to leave readers giggling. Adam, on the other hand, isn’t laughing when he repeatedly finds Koala back in his bed, “closer than close.” Ferrell’s writing is lean and funny, and he wraps things up with a didn’t-see-that-coming twist. Santoso’s pencil drawings, colored with a muted digital palette, are finely textured, with clever, memorable details — including, of course, Koala’s creepy eyes.

From the March/April 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Tanya D. Auger

Tanya D. Auger is a former middle school teacher with a master’s degree in learning and teaching from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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