The Bad Chair

House of Anansi/Groundwood. Oct. 2020. 40p. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781773062464.
K-Gr 2–In Vivi’s room, a houseplant is in love with a cat, her stuffed monkey can walk and talk, and her chair feels left out of all the fun. Every day Vivi and Monkey play hide and seek. Monkey hides, and Vivi, a brown-skinned girl with natural hair, seeks. When Chair wants to hide, he sabotages the game by spilling a drink on Monkey to send him to the washing machine. Vivi is initially upset when she discovers Chair’s deception, but after a moment’s thought, she forgives Chair and decides to let him play. This book driven by a clear sense of childlike logic; in the brief scene where an adult appears, it’s simply a black and white outline, a silhouette existing only peripherally in the child’s imagination. Further, the extent of each household item’s anthropomorphism varies. For instance, Monkey can move around the room, independently play games, and talk. Chair is not as ambulatory. The watercolor illustrations strike the perfect balance of being naive without seeming amateurish. The color scheme is vibrant and the character’s faces—even the nonhuman ones—are expressive.
VERDICT Some readers may not like that Chair’s bad behavior is rewarded, but others may see it as a story of forgiveness; a worthwhile purchase, not just for the unique, nuanced artwork.

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