We Have a Playdate

Abrams/Amulet. Aug. 2021. 96p. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9781419752735.
Gr 1-3–In this graphic novel aimed at newly independent readers, three animal pals meet up at the playground: Tuna, a narwhal-esque creature; Noodle, a green snake wearing a cap; and Margo, a pink bird. Expecting to have the place to themselves, the friends are surprised to encounter a growling bear on the slide. They try to remove Bear—Tuna builds a robot to go after Bear; Margo attempts their most impressive duck calls, but despite Bear’s frightening exterior, they aren’t the tough, growly type. Turns out, Bear is a bit scared and eager to meet new friends. The book is cleverly divided into chapters with each devoted to a different playground area where the crew has zany mishaps. There is no shortage of giggle-inducing words (“Oh no! Margo fizzled their neenee bopper!”), but this tale also shares valuable wisdom as the foursome all learn important social skills such as sharing and accountability. Dormer designs simple yet accessible cartoon vignettes that early readers will fully embrace. The palette relies on rich tones that are a perfect fit for the animal characters and setting, while the text incorporates short dialogue with onomatopoeia to both engage and enthrall comic readers. Dormer includes a note stating that all characters use they/them pronouns, to honor his daughter, Sam, who is transgender.
VERDICT A winning graphic novel that offers a lively reading experience and introduces a delightful cast of animal characters navigating the ups and downs of friendship.

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