________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 4. . . September 29, 2017


Barnaby Never Forgets.

Pierre Collet-Derby.
Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press (Distributed in Canada by Random House), 2017.
32 pp., hardcover, $23.00.
ISBN 978-0-7636-8853-0.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

***½ /4



Oh boy! Where did I put my
glasses? I’m going to be late
for school . . . again!


The dissonance between the book’s title, Barnaby Never Forgets, and the cover illustration that reveals school supplies spilling from Barnaby’s unzippered backpack should alert young readers to the fact that this book actually has two texts, one composed of Collet-Derby’s words and the other imbedded in his illustrations. Barnaby’s initial challenge, as outlined in the excerpt, leads the young rabbit to brag that “I’m usually GREAT at remembering things”, and he enumerates several instances of his memory power. However, the illustrations tell a somewhat different story. And so, while Barnaby can rightly say that he “never forget[s] to feed [his] grasshoppers in the morning” and that he “always know[s] when it’s ice-cream night”, as the accompanying illustrations reveal, his statements don’t include his remembering to close the door of the grasshoppers’ cage or that of the freezer. It’s while Barnaby’s brushing his teeth in front of the mirror that he locates his missing glasses – they’ve been on his face all along. Somewhat sheepishly, Barnaby acknowledges that, “OK, maybe things do slip my mind every now and then”, and he acknowledges a few of his memory lapses but qualifies each of them with words that suggest such occurrences are rare and not the norm. Again, Collet-Derby’s digitally created illustrations challenge Barnaby’s words. And so Barnaby’s admission that he “may have a few overdue library books” is contradicted by a cobweb-covered mountain of books in the living room. Barnaby even tries to make a virtue out of his “sometime” forgetfulness, such as recalling the excitement he experienced when he discovered long-forgotten money in his pants pocket. And as Barnaby walks to school, he joyously recounts his most recent discovery, one that had resided in his backpack since his birthday last year – a [fuzz-encrusted] lollipop. Arriving at an empty schoolyard, Barnaby exclaims, “WHOA! Where is everybody?” before remembering, “Today is Saturday! See? I don’t forget everything!” However, youngsters “reading” the book’s last two illustrations will likely respond with, “Not so fast little bunny. You’ve forgotten your ....”

     The intended audience will embrace the delightful humour of Barnaby Never Forgets, and its large font and generously-sized illustrations make it a perfect book for read-aloud sharing with small groups of children.

Highly Recommended.

Dave Jenkinson, CM’s editor, remembers that he lives in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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