Tabitha and Fritz Trade Places

Amazon/Two Lions. Jan. 2021. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781542008549.
K-Gr 3–A prim feline and outgoing pachyderm swap homes in this fun anthropomorphic tale. Tabitha is bored of indoor life in the city and Fritz seeks a new adventure during which to celebrate his birthday. They make a connection on “Lair-BNB” and proceed to switch places, documenting their trips through online messages to each other. As the vacations turn from fun and exciting (Tabitha meets some leopard “relatives,” Fritz enjoys the company of his “tiny human” companion) to frustrating (Fritz makes a mess of a museum visit and Tabitha is tossed in a waterfall), the two decide “there’s no place like home” and return to more familiar comforts—and a promise to travel together in the future. This tale is told exclusively in illustrations and messages, complementing one another as well as contradicting. The book functions as a beginning reader, despite a straightforward picture book layout, because both characters write with extensive descriptions and adjectives, and frequently sign off on their correspondence with alliteration (“grand and gourmet,” “primal and pouncing”). Nearly all of the bright digital illustrations split the page, with Fritz’s activities on one side and Tabitha’s on the other. The virtual messages appear either within the scene or on the following page. In this way, readers can compare what the character thinks they are experiencing (a personal litter box) and what actually occurs (a steaming pile and an angry meerkat). The color palette is bright and cheery; Fritz is blue with a warm glow to his cheeks, and Tabitha is orange with round green eyes.
VERDICT A laugh-out-loud story that spells out why the grass is not always greener, with subtle language lessons built in for emerging readers.

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