Alma and the Beast

Tundra. Sept. 2019. 44p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780735263963.
PreS-Gr 2–Two worlds. Two creatures. One adorable book about befriending those who appear to be different. Furry little Alma lives in a land where everything—trees, rocks, living creatures—is covered in hair, which she combs. One day, a strange, hairless beast, dressed in a lemon fabric dress and cap, appears. Alma helps the lost girl make her way home, showing off the landscape as they walk. Halfway through, the story’s perspective literally flips. Up they go in Alma’s world, and on the next page, down they head into Mala’s. This alternative world is like ours, verdant and magical in its own way, thanks to Shapiro’s vivid imagination and skill with watercolor, gouache, and pencil. Now it’s Mala’s turn to guide her guest. The locale is exciting and confusing, but with the help of her new friend, Alma quickly picks up on some of the local customs before departing. With lessons on friendship, culture, and helping others, and, language and art reminiscent of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, this endearing picture book is richly rewarding.
VERDICT Shapiro invites readers to partake in a cultural exchange between two very different worlds and see how friendship can bloom between unexpected pairs.

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