Book: Shorty & Clem
Author: Michael Slack
Age Range: 4-8
Shorty & Clem is the story of two friends. Shorty is a relatively short dinosaur and Clem is a quail. They apparently live together. One day while Clem is out, a package arrives for him. Shorty is achingly curious about the contents of the package (wrapped in cheerful spotted paper). He doesn't feel right opening it, but, well, bouncing it, thumping on it, and other activities prove irresistible. Eventually Shorty succumbs to temptation and opens the package, finding something delightful. But he has to face the music when Clem comes home. Or does he?
This book reminded me very much of the Elephant & Piggie books (with Shorty taking the role or Elephant), albeit with a hint more text, and obviously very different illustrations. For example, on one page spread Shorty says:
"I will drive it!"
He looks gleeful (if somewhat demented), sitting on the package. Then there's a page of sound effects: "VROOM, VROOOM, VROOOOM" "screetch" "CRASH!" as he drives the box/car around. I could just hear Gerald the Elephant saying "I will eat the ice cream!" under similar circumstance.
But, you know, someone does have to fill the void left by the retirement of Elephant and Piggie. And Shorty and Clem are dynamic and funny. Michael Slack's exclamation-filled text is read-aloud friendly, with plenty of opportunities for drama. And the colorful characters are visually engaging. Clem, I think, is especially cute, with his big round eyes. (I'm not sure why Clem is male, to tell the truth, as he is basically wearing pumps, but whatever.)
I think that Shorty & Clem could work well for a storytime read-aloud for preschoolers, or as an early reader for primary-age kids. Slack nicely captures the desperation that young kids feel when they have to wait to open a present. Oh, the suffering! Shorty's creative uses of the simple box are also inspired. I would not be at all surprised to see these two characters repackaged into an early reader format, and having further adventures. In any event, my daughter and I enjoyed them in picture book format. Recommended.
Publisher: HarperCollins (@HarperChildrens)
Publication Date: April 25, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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