Review of Kondo & Kezumi Visit Giant Island

Kondo & Kezumi Visit Giant Island
by David Goodner; illus. by Andrea Tsurumi
Primary    Little, Brown    80 pp.    g
10/20    978-1-368-02577-5    $15.99
e-book ed.  978-1-368-04605-3    $9.99

Kondo, a large yellow creature, and Kezumi, a small orange creature, live on an island full of “berry bushes and flitter-birds and fluffle-bunnies.” One day “something new” appears: a message in a bottle that reads “We are not alone.” The anonymous message includes a map, and after overcoming fears, Kondo and Kezumi set off in a bathtub boat — with the map! — to explore the islands around them, taking notes as they sail along. At their first stop, the Dairy Isle (get it?), the pair eats their fill of cheddar logs and Gorgonzola gourds. The next leg of their trip brings them dangerously close to the jagged, flaming Fireskull Island. They make their way to Giant Island, where they meet a new friend — who would rather they didn’t leave. The vibrant digital illustrations immerse readers in the various island ecosystems — each rife with otherworldly (or simply cheesy) vegetation and populated by whimsical creatures — and all the rough and windy waterways between them. Voyagers Kezumi and Kondo tackle fears, frustrations, and homesickness humorously and realistically, reflecting the many issues that can test a friendship during travel. Their frank discussion of emotions (“That was scary”) and their apologies can be seen as models for young readers’ own developing friendships. Kondo and Kezumi remind us that we are not alone, indeed.

From the September/October 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Grace McKinney
Grace McKinney

Grace McKinney holds an MA in Children's Literature from Simmons University and reviews for the Horn Book Magazine. She works at a Montessori school in St. Louis, Missouri, and writes about children's books and Montessori on the blog Cosmic Bookshelf.

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