You Make Me Sneeze!

Astra. Feb. 2024. 48p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781662620195.
K-Gr 3–Cat and Duck face a change in their friendship while on a camping trip. Duck begins to sneeze. Cat kindly starts to cook up some healing tickle-bark tea while Duck hypothesizes that the problem is being newly allergic to Cat. The sneezes are tremendous, body-shaking ones. Cat dons a sleeping bag, then a pot for a hat, covering as much fur as possible at Duck’s request. Then Cat is banished to outside the tent. Duck's vision, because of the allergic reaction, is compromised. Duck’s bossiness, coming from a desperate allergic reaction, borders on bullying. Cat, responding, sends Duck home, though they are in a wilderness. Then Duck is contrite, pledging lifelong friendship, and flowers in Cat’s backpack are proven the source of the sneezing. Honestly, kids with fur allergies will be perplexed for at least a beat—is it really just pollen they are allergic to? The dialogue reads like two adults bickering, but with occasional barbs. A massively confusing story in conversation, conveyed only through speech bubbles, this comic book-style picture book is bruising in so many ways.
VERDICT Those dealing with miserable and even life-threatening allergies may not see anything funny here at all.

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