Book: A Good Home for Max
Author: Junzo Terada
Age Range: 3-5
A Good Home for Max by Junzo Terada was originally published in Japan in 2005, and was brought to the US this year by Chronicle. It's the story of a mouse named Tabi who lives in "a little shop in a little town". Every night Tabi comes out of hiding to clean and re-stock the shop, paying special attention to the stuff animals. Tabi tries to help a particular animal friend, a stuffed dog named Max, to become enticing enough to be purchased. But every night, Max is still there, and the friendship between Tabi and Max grows closer. When Max isn't there one morning, Tabi has to leave the safety of the shop to make sure that Max is safe.
Terada's text is mainly straight-up narrative, without particularly advanced vocabulary or rhyming, and just a bit of dialog (only Tabi actually speaks). Here's a snippet:
"Tabi decorates Max with an inner tube
in summer, because he'd be a good
dog to play with at the beach ...
and a festive hat in winter, because
he would be a good dog to play with
in the snow."
Really, though, it's the illustrations that make this book special (Teresa is a designer and artist). Terada uses a muted color scheme and mixed media illustration style that makes the book look old, in a good way. Like the colors have faded a bit. There are repeated design elements, like patterns of cherries and identical ducklings, and patterned backgrounds, that add a certain cheerfulness. Tabi is the only character who really seems active, but we do see a change in Max's expression between the beginning and end of the book, suggesting that the stuffed animals are at least somewhat animate. It’s a distinctive style, different from most of the picture books that cross my desk, and one that catches the attention.
One tidit that I also liked was the presence of various signs and labels in French. For those who don't know French, it's reasonably clear from context what these things say. And for those who do know a bit of French, it's nice for practice.
A Good Home for Max is a celebration of the power of friendship, with an international flair, and an unconventional and appealing illustration style. It would make a lovely bedtime book for preschoolers, sure to have them dreaming of toys that come to life, and little mouse tidying up a shop overnight.
Publisher: Chronicle Books ((@ChronicleKids)
Publication Date: September 9, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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