Carol and the Pickle-Toad

Tundra. May 2021. 48p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780735263987.
K-Gr 3–Carol, a white child with red spectacles, wears a bossy toad as a hat, and that toad tells her how to behave. When a pigeon swoops up the “hat,” Carol constructs another of a deli pickle and egg slices for eyes. That “hat” also tells her how to behave, but nicely. When a pigeon takes that hat, too, Carol learns to listen to her own voice. At its core, this imaginative story is grounded in a specific and unexpected metaphor that shows how Carol learns to trust her own judgment. The pace of the story can feel offbeat at times. Abrupt surprises bring Carol closer to the realization that her opinions are important, but the symbolism of Carol’s hats may be easily overlooked by readers who are engaged by the humor of these unusual elements and overall entertainment of the story. Illustrated with mixed media, every space is filled with stylized details that remain impressively consistent throughout the story. A free flowing, yet organized, organic color scheme surrounds Carol with a balance of earthy pinks, grays, greens, and beige, in high and low saturations, as she discovers her favorite hobbies, like painting and trying new food.
VERDICT An unpredictable story, for the most thoughtful reader, about a young city girl discovering how to voice her own opinion.

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