Review of Arlo & Pips: King of the Birds

Arlo & Pips: King of the Birds
by Elise Gravel; illus. by the author
Primary    HarperAlley/HarperCollins    64 pp.    g
10/20    978-0-06-298221-6    $12.99
Paper ed.  978-0-06-298222-3    $7.99

It’s an early chapter book! It’s a graphic novel! It’s a story about a creature with an overabundance of pride! It’s an unexpected friendship story! It’s a collection of strange-but-true facts about crows! Gravel (Disgusting Critters series) manages all this in three short graphic chapters marked by her signature sly humor. Her blocky cartoon birds on simple backgrounds in a limited color palette help keep things simple. Arlo, a boastful crow, finds an audience in a little yellow bird named Pips, who questions whether crows really are the very best birds, as Arlo claims. On finding that Arlo is new to the city, Pips offers to show him around, and a new friendship is formed. As their small adventures unfold — tricking other birds, visiting the beach, finding shiny things — facts about crows are sprinkled throughout in the form of footnotes. These facts are used to great effect, making the reader believe that maybe crows are truly as amazing as Arlo says.

From the January/February 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Laura Koenig

Laura Koenig is the Team Leader for Central Library Children's Services at the Boston Public Library.

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