cover image Samira and the Skeletons

Samira and the Skeletons

Camilla Kuhn, trans. from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett. Eerdmans, $16 (34p) ISBN 978-0-8028-5463-6

Childhood is full of discoveries about the world that can be revelatory, horrifying, or a bit of both. Learning that people have skeletons under their skin is one such discovery, at least for a girl named Samira. Norwegian author-artist Kuhn isn’t shy about digging into Samira’s horror—as this knowledge takes hold, Samira starts seeing everyone around her as walking, talking skeletons. “Just look at your lovely teeth! That’s your skeleton peeping out of your mouth,” says Samira’s teacher, making things worse. Unnerved, Samira avoids her best friend and resists hugging her mother after school. When Samira decides she’s better off sans skeleton, Mom obligingly sets up a mock skeleton-removal operation, wielding a plunger and scissors (after all, says Mom, snails, worms, and jellyfish “manage just fine” without skeletons). Fortunately, Samira realizes skeletons are good for dancing and jumping rope; unfortunately, muscles are the next day’s lesson. “They are the same as meat,” explains Samira’s ever-helpful teacher. “Exactly like a steak.” Tenderhearted kids may be freaked out by the book’s moderately disturbing images, but scientifically curious ones (and those with a mischievous streak) should appreciate Kuhn’s directness. Ages 5–8. (Mar.)