“One Cool Friend” by Toni Buzzeo
I found the book, “One Cool Friend” to be a totally charming read. It isn’t the sort of thing I would ordinarily pick up to preview, but our assignment was to review one of the awards or honors books, so I decided to give it a try. I usually tend towards soft, lush, colorful art, but the stylized line art drawings of this book perfectly reflect the tongue in cheek wit of the story.
Elliot is a very formal and proper young man, seemingly the total opposite of his effusive, sloppy looking father. When Dad suggests a trip to Family Fun Day at the Aquarium, Elliot is dismayed, thinking of the mobs of raucous children. But, he is polite, and accepts his father’s invitation graciously. Once there, Dad settles in for a naturalistic study, and Elliot moves off in search of an exhibit that isn’t too crowded, and is overjoyed to find the penguins, who are all dressed in tuxedos like he is. He ends up bringing home a penguin, and makes it comfortable in his room, with a skating rink and anchovies. The story continues in very droll fashion until the surprise ending, where we realize how much the pet reflects the owner.
One of the things I really liked about this book was the delightfully distracted and unconventional father, and his relationship with his very focused and conventional son. As different as they are, they are both understanding and accepting of each other, and the book ends happily, if absurdly.
I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a cute or clever treatment of penguins, or father son relationships. It would be great for a story time or read aloud.
Review by Gael Nappa