Dessert Island

Roaring Brook. May 2021. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250763303.
PreS-K–This picture-book debut blends poignant themes of sharing and selflessness. In this sweet and simple tale, Monkey and Fox find themselves in somewhat similar settings with very different challenges. Both are alone and surrounded by water, but Monkey is lucky to be on a floating island made of delicious desserts. Fox, meanwhile, is hungry and alone on a desert island. However, as their circumstances evolve, Monkey finds his predicament steadily worsening, while Fox’s improves immensely; Monkey’s island fractures as a result of his eating it as well as a powerful thunderstorm, whereas Fox uses the rain to cultivate crops. The story’s climax, unfolding across a number of double-page spreads, relates a beautiful and universal message of kindness and community. Zhu employs an expert use of parallelism throughout the story, with minimal text and alternating spreads depicting the contrast and eventual union of the animals’ circumstances.
VERDICT Discussion opportunities abound in this exceptional addition to most collections.

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