Little Shrew

Kids Can. Jun. 2024. 72p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781525313035.
Gr 1-3–Anthropomorphic Little Shrew lives in an apartment, works in a people-filled world, and is content with his weekly routine. A story in three parts that has slightly longer text than many picture books follows Little Shrew as he solves a puzzle, then barters for a TV at a garage sale—which leads to dreams of visiting warmer places. In the third section, Little Shrew celebrates New Year’s with two mice friends. The New Year’s party scene does have the male mouse holding two alcoholic beverages. This is perhaps in recognition of Japanese culture, where there are beer vending machines and a different attitude towards alcohol. Using pencil, charcoal, and acrylic gouache, this tale is brought to life through black-and-white illustrations interspersed with colorful pages. The artwork does appear slightly pixelated; the black-and-white pages appear similar to an old TV set with an almost fuzzy look. A downside is the physical size, a mere 6 x 8 inches and 72 pages. Chapter book in size, but almost beginning reader-esque in the use of white space, picture book in concept—where to shelve this? The text is mostly one and two syllable words, with a few longer words included.
VERDICT Charming in so many ways, this will take some hand-selling to find its true audience.

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