How This Book Got Red

Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky. Oct. 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781728265650.
PreS-Gr 2–In a wildlife window-and-mirrors moment, the red panda who stars in this picture book resents that everyone’s definition of “panda” seems to only make room for the black-and-white panda default. The small, determined creature decides to write a book about red pandas, to amplify their profile; but it’s a difficult task, and giving up is the only recourse. In exuberant illustrations that chronicle the ups and downs of the tale, other red pandas come across the rejected project, ecstatic to find themselves in the pages of a story. The red panda is similarly overjoyed and recreates the book, putting it on to as many shelves as she can find with the help of her good friend, the black-and-white panda Gee, who illustrates. There are red panda facts in this story of empowerment, but what it excels at is breaking down the simplicity of wanting to be included into a charming friendship story. Gee, at first, doesn’t really see the big deal, but quickly comes to support the heroine. And the delight of other red pandas is genuinely heartwarming.
VERDICT A simple quest for inclusion unfolds for the very young, although the pun in the title deflects from the book’s true worth.

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