Zoey Abbott is a wonder


Hey, everyone!

So I recently picked up a free copy of Banana from LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program. (I don't use LibraryThing so much these days, but it is still a cool site that offers good things. I paid for a lifetime membership. This is me. You know. Should you wish to say hi.)

Anyway, Banana is a very cutting allegory that isn't really an allegory at all because its symbols will cut wherever you aim them. It's been marketed as a book about parental distraction, but it can talk about distraction of anyone from anything by anything. It's a solid picture book and a fun read and a great book to spark conversation with a six-year-old, but it . . . I don't even own a phone, but it might have cut a little close.



Still. I liked it enough that I immediately put every other Zoey Abbott book at the library on hold. They arrived and the six-year-old and I read them, and man alive is this woman a significant talent!

All three of these books are excellent, but I will take them in order from successful to brilliant. (Incidentally, I'd put Banana somewhere in the middle.)

Incidentally, these books—all the ones available which she has both written and illustrated—were all released in the last twenty-six months. So she's on a tear and I suspect her publisher shares my high opinion of her. Publishers, actually. Only the last two are from the same imprint.)


This wonderful little girl loves the oldfashioned world of stamps, of writing and mailing letters.

But she does not love Yolanda, the terrifying woman who works one of the counters at her local post office. (I could tell you which one, but the endpapers are filled with her letters and envelopes so why not let you enjoy learning for yourself?)

Eventually, things warm between them (thank you literature. and food. and literature about food.)

(I haven't read it, but the movie's great.)

It's a good book. It has a lot of heart and honesty. But it would not make me put someone's other books on hold. Even though I am becoming a great sucker for picture books and the last line made me choke up.)



The first half of this book I'm thinking about using as a writing prompt for my sophomores next year. Horse is trying to help Pig distract herself from her fears and anxieties.

Eventually, they invite her fears to tea and Zoey makes the choice to define them more specifically, which is probably the right choice for her target audience, but it's where I would end the book for my own pedagogic purposes.

Anyway, the book is lovely and useful. Horse is both a good friend and at times distinctly unhelpful. Pig is both brave and afraid—and models dealing with fears that are of debatable substance. It's good stuff.


Look: this is a book in the tradition of Grand Orphan Adventures and it happily checks boxes we know from fairy tales and Roald Dahl. Clementine is a delightful heroine and I love her lots.

But then the lion moves in. And the story does not go at all in the direction I expected.

Zoey Abbott has a knack for stories that feel allegorical but can actually be interpreted in plenty of ways, so when I tell you this is probably the best representation of marriage I've seen in a picture book, I do not at all expect you to agree with me. But that was my experience.

I loved it.

My guess is none of these first four entries is her Wild Things or Goodnight, Moon or Guess How Much I Love You. No one, no matter how skilled, is guaranteed a book like that. But my guess is she'll get one.

And it might not be better than what she's already given us.

Note: the images above all link to Amazon. These books are also available on Bookshop. Though so far, I am earned zero money from Bookshop clicks. Which I'm afraid might tell me something about my audience. Ahem. Here are the Bookshop links by publication order: I Do Not Like Yolanda, Pig and Horse and the Something Scary, Clementine and the Lion, Banana.)

No comments:

Post a Comment