Review of The Cool Bean

The Cool Bean
by Jory John; illus. by Pete Oswald
Primary    Harper/HarperCollins    40 pp.
12/19    978-0-06-295452-7    $18.99

This third collaboration about an endearing food staple features John’s and Oswald’s trademark humor-wrapped-around-a-message that made The Bad Seed and The Good Egg (rev. 3/19) so entertaining. This time it’s a cool-is-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder tale starring three beans (cool ones, natch) who rule the school, and our wide-eyed, bow-tie-wearing protagonist who used to be their friend “in the olden days, last year.” Our bean tries to earn a place in the lima-light: “I wore sunglasses…I slicked my hair back,” but the changes don’t feel right. The misfit bean resigns itself to loneliness (“I lived my life and things were just…okay”) until some surprising acts of kindness cause it to reevaluate assumptions about its former — or are they? — BFFs. Witty wordplay (“I was officially a has-bean”) and silly gags in the digital and watercolor illustrations (The Great Gatsbean, A Midsummer Night’s Bean, Leguma Beach) help downplay the didacticism and up the cool factor.

From the March/April 2020 Horn Book Magazine.

Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

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