Review of A Practical Present for Philippa Pheasant

A Practical Present for Philippa Pheasant A Practical Present for Philippa Pheasant
by Briony May Smith; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary    Candlewick    32 pp.
8/23    9781536228489    $18.99

Philippa, a pheasant, is “fed up with being nearly knocked pancake-flat” by cars whenever she crosses the road to eat blackberries by the forest where she lives. When her note to the local (human) mayor receives no response, she’s inspired by the village’s school crossing guard to make herself a yellow vest and a sign to stop vehicles so other critters can safely cross. Fascinated villagers share the brave bird’s story in the news, but the mayor isn’t impressed—until one night when his cat, Darling Treasure, goes missing and Philippa finds her. As the book’s alliterative title suggests, Philippa finally receives a proper crossing guard uniform, and the other animals paint a crosswalk for her. Smith’s appealing and uplifting story shows how one individual, even a small one, can make a difference. In a pleasing style reminiscent of G. Brian Karas (The Little Library, rev. 5/21, and others), the mixed-media illustrations in mainly browns and greens depict an idyllic countryside setting. The skillful variation of spot art, full-page illustrations, and spreads helps build excitement, from Philippa’s repeated and risky forays out into the road to the search for Darling Treasure, while the matter-of-fact narration and tone reassure readers.

From the July/August 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Cynthia K. Ritter
Cynthia K. Ritter

Cynthia K. Ritter is managing editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She earned a master's degree in children's literature from Simmons University. She served on the 2019 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award committee.

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