cover image If Wendell Had a Walrus

If Wendell Had a Walrus

Lori Mortensen, illus. by Matt Phelan. Holt, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-62779-602-6

A number of the most beloved tales feature enchantingly oversized animal companions. In Mortensen’s (Chicken Lily) latest, protagonist Wendell has a walrus friend who meets these qualifications yet exists in Wendell’s imagination. Wendell imagines exchanging silly riddles with his walrus (“What do walruses like to chew?” “Blubber gum”), drawing pictures together, and making forts with cardboard; they’d have “the most stupendiferous, cosmically colossal best time of their lives.” Light, soft lines and gently tinted artwork by Phelan (Snow White) suggest otherwise as the walrus’s big tusks skewer Wendell’s drawings and his sheer bulk makes kite-flying difficult. When Wendell throws a friendly invitation in a bottle into the sea and discovers another boy standing on the next rock over, his curiosity is piqued. “Walrus?” asks Wendell. “Whale,” says the boy, named Morrell. In the end, it turns out that Morrell is exactly the friend Wendell has been looking for all along—and he doesn’t have any pesky tusks. Ages 4–8. [em]Author’s agent: Liza Voges, Eden Street. Illustrator’s agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Apr.) [/em]