Oh, Panda

Knopf. Sept. 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593564721.
PreS-K–Panda never utters a word in Derby’s sweet story; the text is the voice of an unseen narrator who opens the tale by asking the cub, “What are we going to do today? Should we build an ice castle?” Just then a bright red-and-gold butterfly, which is about the only spot of color in the black-and-white snow-covered landscape, catches Panda’s attention. The youngster becomes fascinated by it and is determined to follow the beautiful insect that has soared over a snow-covered mountain. Panda’s stubborn determination to go after the butterfly results in several setbacks as the steep and icy slope proves to be too slippery to scale. Panda tries using sticky sap and small branches to give him some purchase in making the climb, but to no avail. When it’s very clear the young animal has his mind set on finding the butterfly, the narrator helps with some useful items. Ice blue, black, and white watercolors with gouache create a striking snowy landscape with some surprise pops of color at sunrise and sunset. The narrator vocalizes the words “Oh, Panda” with varying inflections, conveying different meanings such as frustration, pity, disappointment, and awe. The stand-in for a child is direct and loving; by leaving the narrator invisible, but ever-present, the story is surprisingly empowering without being scary.
VERDICT Reminiscent of a human toddler struggling against the odds, the headstrong cub uses his energy and strong will to accomplish what he set out to do in this charming, effective picture book adventure.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing