Review of Ogilvy

Ogilvy
by Deborah Underwood; illus. by T. L. McBeth
Preschool, Primary    Godwin/Holt    40 pp.
5/19    978-1-250-15176-6    $17.99

Ogilvy, a wide-eyed, line-drawn bunny, is excited to make friends in a new town. But upon arrival, the rabbit’s sartorial choices are challenged; Ogilvy, clad in a knit article of clothing, is asked: “Is it a sweater or is it a dress?” In this town, according to the dress-clad sourpuss posing the question, all bunnies wear either — and only — one or the other. The designation of Ogilvy’s knee-length, turtleneck garment apparently matters greatly, “for bunnies in dresses play ball and knit socks / and bunnies in sweaters make art and climb rocks.” All these activities appeal to Ogilvy, who declares the garment a dress one day and a sweater the next, much to the rule-enforcer’s chagrin. The parallels with real-life gender-based strictures are immediately obvious, and the arbitrariness and silliness of the book’s imaginary categories encourage readers to consider whether real-world ones make much sense. The tone reflects that silliness throughout, with a jaunty (gender pronoun–free) rhyming text and spare, cartoony illustrations “made with graphite pencils, Adobe Photoshop, and sweaters,” whose bold lines and loose shadows give a classic feel to this fable with a modern message.

From the May/June 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Shoshana Flax
Shoshana Flax
Shoshana Flax, assistant editor for The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons College. She is a member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.

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