Review of Monti and Leo: A Newcomer in Pocketville

Monti and Leo: A Newcomer in Pocketville Monti and Leo: A Newcomer in Pocketville
by Sylvie Kantorovitz; illus. by the author
Primary    Walker US/Candlewick    80 pp.
4/24    9781536222777    $16.99

Monti the mole has a morning routine: go the bakery, stop at the library, and then rest on his favorite rock beside the river. One day, his routine is interrupted when he hears whispers about a stranger in town—and then he finds the stranger on his rock. This beginning-reader comic is for children gaining confidence and fluency. It’s told in five short chapters with twenty to thirty words per page; multisyllabic words like stranger, favorite, and talent are repeated throughout the text, giving opportunities to practice them. The stranger turns out to be Leo, a long-snouted green creature; and, of course, he and Monti become fast friends. Kantorovitz presents a fresh angle on friendship, though: Leo has been experiencing some suspicion and hostility since he arrived in town, and Monti makes it his goal to show everyone how amazing Leo is. The digital illustrations mix bold lines and pastel colors to pleasing effect, and Kantorovitz varies the number of panels on each page to control the pace, building small moments of drama and breakthroughs and leading up to a talent show Monti and Leo stage to bring the town together. This cozy book feels both familiar and surprising, and it will likely be embraced by young comics fans.

Pubissue-From the March/April 2024 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Adrienne L. Pettinelli

Adrienne L. Pettinelli is the director of the Henrietta (NY) Public Library. She has served on several book award committees, including the 2015 Caldecott Committee, and is the author of Helping Homeschoolers in the Library (2008).

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