Don't Eat That

illus. by Drew Sheneman. 40p. Viking. Jun. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781101997291.
K-Gr 2—When the good scout Gertie stumbles upon a recently released grizzly bear eating a rock, she decides to set him straight. Their initial efforts to teach him the survival skills he needs may prove fruitless, but once they combine the girl's knowledge with the bear's prowess, they easily achieve their goal. Gertie, the stereotypical scout, is knowledgeable, proficient, and independent, but not selfless. Originally, she helps out of the expectation of receiving her scout merit badge. By the end though, she herself is set straight, earning something much more valuable. Sheneman brings his cartoonist's sensibilities to the picture book format. The design, the progression, and the humor have the feel of a newspaper comic strip; adults will get a laugh out of this story just as much as children will. The illustrations are drawn with a thin pen-like tool, digitally painted in common forest shades, and appear in a carefully constructed mixture of paneled, panel-less, and full spread layouts. Verbal and visual comedy are used in equal measure. For the former, a few puns are thrown in to add flavor to the straightforward monologue. As an example of the later, the bear's primary means of expressing his thoughts are funny gestures. His relative silence contrasts nicely with Gertie's verbosity.
VERDICT With its comic-strip roots, amusing characters, and message of friendship over individual merit, Don't Eat That makes a great intergenerational read.

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