FICTION

If Wendell Had a Walrus

illus. by Matt Phelan. 32p. Holt. Apr. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781627796026.
COPY ISBN
Wendell, with his swoop of orange hair and peaches-and-cream complexion, gets to thinking about what he'd do if he had a walrus after "seeing" one in the clouds. "If Wendell had a walrus, he'd name him Roger. They'd tell tons of jokes. Walruses love a good joke." Wendell feeds Roger the lines: "What did the walrus do when he read a sad story?" and Roger responds: "He blubbered." Mortensen's pitch-perfect child humor combined with Phelan's knack for body language and facial expressions brings the pair's joy clearly to the pages. The problem is that their activities-riding a bike, drawing, building a fort-remain imaginary since Wendell doesn't have a walrus. Observant children will notice a second boy, this one with brown skin and a halo of curly hair, following a similar path, and Wendell spots him after he throws a note in a bottle out to sea. The boy, Morrell, has a bottle too-his addressed to a whale-and as they wait on the rocks, they start telling each other jokes, and become nonimaginary friends. Phelan's pencil and watercolor illustrations use blues and oranges and gentle lines to make viewers yearn to be part of the landscape and the story, and he makes all the characters' emotional connections (humans and animals) remarkably real. A surprise twist at the end leaves room for kids to imagine what happens next. susan dove lempke

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


RELATED 

Community matters. Stay up to date on breaking news, trends, reviews, and more.

Get access to 6000+ annual reviews of books, databases, and more

As low as $12/month