Malo and the Merry-Go-Round

Princeton Architectural. Mar. 2020. 34p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781616898755.
PreS-Gr 2–Malo has promised to help his friend Poto make pickles, but decides that he would much rather chase beetles and ride the new merry-go-round instead. He is in such a big rush to find the appealing ride that he neglects to stop long enough to bite a tick off a suffering boar or even allow a gang of friendly forest turtles to join in his fun. When Malo ultimately reaches the eagerly anticipated ride, however, his interest wanes as he realizes how much he truly misses Poto. With the help of his best friend, he makes amends towards all the other creatures he offended on the way. Dek’s text has a quaint folktalelike quality to it, with a redeeming lesson at the end about the benefits of being a faithful friend and apologizing for past transgressions. The identities of the two main characters are curiously unclear. They may be aardvarks or beavers, but the author fails to mention what they are and the illustrations are equally vague. The fact that the other animals are identified (boar, cuckoo, turtles, and dung beetle) makes this all the more peculiar. Dek’s watercolor illustrations of these creatures are often quite small and surrounded by too much white space. The overall message is valuable, but the illustrations fail to suitably match and carry the story.
VERDICT A worthwhile tale which could be better showcased with alternative illustrations.

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