One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo and Illustrated by David Small was a Caldecott Honor book this year. I really enjoyed the pictures in One Cool Friend. I think Small did a great job keeping the pictures simple with a lot of black, white, and grays, but they were still fun with splashes of color here and there to enhance and bring notice to sections. Plus, Small did a great job of using the pictures to make the cute story even better. I can definitely see why he earned a Caldecott Honor with this book.
All in all, I would give this picture book a 5 out of 5 stars. The story line is great, the pictures are great, and there is a fun surprise at the end. Both boys and girls will like this story, and as a librarian I am all about finding great read aloud books. I think this book would be a perfect read aloud. A librarian or teacher or parent could have a lot of fun reading this book. I know I have!
As far as lesson ideas go, there is a lot you could do with this one. You could use it as a way to start talking about research and how to do research. This would be perfect for the younger grades I think (1st, 2nd, or 3rd grade). You could also use this book for most of the 6 traits of writing. A creative teacher or librarian could make this work in so many ways. For example, Buzzeo does a great job with word choice and using good descriptive words in the story. The story also has speech bubbles that give it a fun format, but it still is an easy format to understand. Plus, the story talks about explorers. So the 6th grade curriculum (maybe, I could be wrong, it could be 4th or 5th grade) that talks about explorers could use this book to introduce Magellan or Captain Cook as well as some geography. Just a couple fun ideas for the book; there are so many more you could use. If you think of more please share. I love to hear other lesson ideas.
Amazon had the following book description:
"When well-mannered Elliot reluctantly visits the aquarium with his distractible father, he politely asks whether he can have a penguin--and then removes one from the penguin pool to his backpack. The fun of caring for a penguin in a New England Victorian house is followed by a surprise revelation by Elliot's father."
If you want to know what the surprise revelation is you'll have to read the story. I honestly did not pick up on it until it was told, and I loved it. Now, when I reread the story I see clues here and there; the little clues make it fun for older kids to enjoy over and over again.
One Cool Friend is a really fun read for the young and old. Go check it out!