I Won a What?

I Won a What? illus. by Robert Neubecker. 40p. Knopf. Apr. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780553509939.
PreS-Gr 2—"I have to win this goldfish." Thus opens the tale of a boy who really wants a pet. His parents, he laments, are too practical. They won't let him have anything fluffy, shaggy, or feathery—or, heaven forbid, anything that eats mice. But tonight he'll be allowed to keep what he wins at the carnival goldfish booth. His aim is true. "Where's my goldfish?" he asks. Alas, he doesn't win a fish. He wins Nuncio, a great blue whale with eager eyes and a perennial smile. "Impractical," his parents moan. But they keep their promise, and Nuncio, tugged on a multiwheeled platform behind their little car, comes to live in their conveniently huge swimming pool. The contrast between the narrator's delight and his parents' vexation is as evident as their postures and facial expressions. While almost every spread is dominated by the enormous Nuncio, some humans are happier than others about bringing in cartloads of fish or being serenaded with sounds reminiscent of a broken siren. When Dad says, "This isn't working out," the young whale owner has to think fast. Nuncio lends a fin in the garden and a spout for the car wash, proving himself a practical family pet—as Dad says, "A real keeper." Reminiscent of countless tales of extraordinary household pets, I Won a What?? is a worthwhile contribution.
VERDICT With a simple text and entertaining illustrations, this is a heartwarming picture book—and what happens on the very last page is downright beautiful.

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