Rot, the Cutest in the World!

Rot, the Cutest in the World! illus. by Ben Clanton. 40p. S. & S./Atheneum. Dec. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481467629.
PreS-Gr 1—Rot is a mutant potato with sparse hair, unibrow, nubby teeth, and asymmetrical eyes. And, like most mutant potatoes, he likes eating, games, and contests of all sorts. So when Rot sees a sign for the Cutest in the World contest, he immediately enters. His opponents are an adorable baby bunny, a cuddly kitten, and a jolly, pink jellyfish. They are less than supportive of Rot's chances of winning. In fact, they are downright unpleasant. After deciding not to eat them because that would be mean and probably cause indigestion, Rot attempts to enhance his cuteness by adopting bunny ears, whiskers, and becoming pink and jolly. None of this makes Rot feel any cuter so he just decides to be himself. In a twist, Rot wins the contest, which is judged by what appear to be a mutant banana, apple, and pear. Clanton's use of speech and thought bubbles, dynamic text placement, varying font styles and sizes, ample white space, and great facial expression all make for a fun (and fun to read) tale of self-acceptance.
VERDICT An entertaining and irreverent take on self-confidence; a strong choice for large collections.

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