Blue Ethel

illus. by Jennifer Black Reinhardt. 40p. Farrar. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374303822.
PreS-Gr 2—Readers learn everything they need to know about this feline on the first spread: "Ethel was old. She was fat. She was black. She was white. And she was very set in her ways." Part of her daily routine involves rolling on the sidewalk, but when one day the sidewalk has been covered in chalk art, Ethel's black-and-white life gets a little more colorful. Ethel is blue—literally and figuratively; her unintentional change makes her too self-conscious to follow her usual habits. She's saved by the appearance of a bright pink neighborhood friend, Fluffy, a perfect companion. Careful readers will spy Fluffy on every page, a true Ethel admirer, stalwart enough to dye herself on purpose. Reinhardt's whimsical pen and watercolor illustrations are well suited to this story of friendship and reliance. The pacing is spot-on; just a sentence or two per page leaves a lot of time for readers to inspect the art, which is full of texture and humorous details.
VERDICT A great storytime read-aloud and a super matchup with James Dean and Eric Litwin's Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes and Karen Beaumon's I Ain't Gonna Paint No More.

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