I Don't Like Koala

illus. by Charles Santoso. 40p. S. & S./Atheneum. Apr. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481400695. LC 2013015976.
PreS-Gr 2—When Adam opens a striped gift box and discovers a plush koala bear, he takes an immediate dislike to the stuffed animal. Koala is "the most terrible terrible." Everything is terrible about the toy, especially its eyes, which "follow Adam everywhere." The young boy's parents, who do not understand his aversion, urge him to take good care of the toy. Nevertheless, Adam tries to get rid of Koala. Stuffing it into his backpack, he sets out on an imaginary journey and leaves Koala behind in a grove of trees. To his chagrin, the dreaded toy is waiting for him in the living room when he returns home. At bedtime, the little boy suddenly has a change of heart when he realizes that Koala's watching eyes will keep him safe from monsters in the dark. Concise illustrations stand out beside adroitly placed text, leaving plenty of white space on most pages. The fuzzy koala bear does look a bit menacing with its staring yellow eyes, and Adam's expressive face perfectly portrays his doubts and frustration. The cinematic quality of the digitally colored pencil drawings add drama to the little boy's dilemma.
VERDICT This clever title will pair nicely with Anika Denise's Bella and Stella Come Home (Philomel, 2010), another story about the comforting friendship of a trusty stuffed animal.

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