I Don't Like Koala

In his first book for young people, Sean Ferrell (The Man in the Empty Suit) teams up with debut children's book artist Charles Santoso for a deliciously creepy tale of a child and his toy koala.

When young Adam opens a striped gift box, he takes an immediate dislike to Koala, whose "terrible eyes" follow him wherever he goes. Santoso depicts the plush toy with its back to readers on the left, as Adam peers at Koala from behind the gift box's top on the right. A full-spread close-up of the toy exposes Koala's left eye askew. In a series of comical vignettes, Adam "tries to explain" to his parents (through his animated antics) his dislike for his gift. Santoso shows the stuffed toy in lifelike poses, peering at Adam with his off-kilter eyes during the boy's bedtime routine. Adam tries to ditch the disturbing marsupial, but when he wakes, "Koala is always there. In his bed. On his pillow." Santoso's subdued palette of rose-pink, beige and ocean blue against cream-colored backgrounds keeps the focus on Adam's fear-stricken face and Koala's menacing eyes. "Hills" and "rocks" correlate to the stairs and couch. Finally, when Koala protects Adam against finger-like shadows in the moonlight, he earns the boy's affection--only to alienate Adam's parents ("I don't like Koala," mother and father confide to each other).

Ferrell's turning of the tables makes humor the antidote for the horror Adam feels, while Santoso's artwork assures children that Adam is never truly in danger. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

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