Review of Gustav Is Missing!: A Tale of Friendship and Bravery

Gustav Is Missing!: A Tale of Friendship and Bravery Gustav Is Missing!: A Tale of Friendship and Bravery
by Andrea Zuill; illus. by the author
Primary  Random House Studio/Random    40 pp.
4/23    9780593487471    $18.99
Library ed.  9780593487488    $21.99
e-book ed.  9780593487495    $10.99

Little Cap is a small, bespectacled, mushroom-like creature who lives with his best friend, Gustav, a rather perky-looking slug. Their house is the essence of cozy—braided rug, teapot, cuckoo clock, and all. The visual pleasure here lies in the details. One day Gustav goes missing, and Little Cap has to conquer his shyness, his general anxiety, and his reluctance to leave home to begin to search for his pal. The slime trail only takes him so far, and Little Cap encounters setbacks and obstacles on his odyssey. As he journeys, he gradually finds his voice until he finally bursts out with “WHERE IS GUSTAV? WHERE ARE ALL THE SLUGS?!” At this turning point a cornucopia of slugs appears, rainbow-colored and helpful. Gustav is found; everyone gets home safely to cozy beds, baths, and board games. Little Cap has discovered new confidence and a new pleasure in the joys of the open road. Such a story of widening horizons is not new, but the slug element makes it fresh, and Zuill keeps her tongue firmly out of her cheek as she treats her characters, and thus her readers, with dignity and respect.

From the September/October 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Sarah Ellis
Sarah Ellis is a Vancouver-based writer and critic, recently retired from the faculty of The Vermont College of Fine Arts.

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