cover image Leave It to Plum!

Leave It to Plum!

Matt Phelan. Greenwillow, $16.99 (128p) ISBN 978-0-06-307916-8

A bighearted peacock with boundless cheer stars in this lively zoo caper by Phelan (Knights vs. Dinosaurs). Free-range peacocks have long been official guest ambassadors at the Athensville Zoo, seeking to “Mingle! Guide! Delight!” But not everyone is happy about the arrangement, especially not a dour, power-hungry marsupial called Itch, a ningbing with an inflated sense of his own smarts. Fed up with being caged while others roam free, Itch plots to frame the pea-fowl for a manufactured crime spree with the help of some wily, sticky-fingered squirrels. When the plan results in entrapment, a “peppy, purple peacock” named Plum plays detective to gain their release, and in the process, his sleuthing sees him standing up to bullies and growing in social awareness. Luckily, the congenial protagonist is also able to draw on the help of new friends, including a lonely street cat and an introverted new zookeeper, and by book’s end, everyone is better off than they were at the start, including the series starter’s villain. With occasional grayscale art presented alongside amusingly self-important, cinematically rendered characters, Phelan offers winning animalian antics for chapter book beginners. Ages 8–12. Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (June)