One Cool Friend

February 3, 2012

Title: One Cool Friend
Author: Toni Buzzeo
Illustrator: David Small
Best for Age: 4-8
ISBN: 9780803734135
Publisher: Dial (2011)
List Price: Hardcover, $16.99

So… I know it is only February, but I think I may have found my favorite book of the year. Is that even possible?

If One Cool Friend, by Toni Buzzeo (Penelope Popper, Book Doctor) and David Small (Imogene’s Antlers, So You Want to Be President?) is any indication of the quality of picture books that will be published in 2012, then we are in for quite a treat. Clever, silly, and surprising, young readers will love this tale of unlikely friendships and hilarious misunderstandings.

Buzzeo writes that “Elliot was a very proper young man,” which all readers can see from his quiet disposition, elevated language, and a black & white wardrobe (complete with bow-tie) that would make Edgar Allen Poe proud. While visiting the aquarium with his father one day, unruffled Elliot becomes quite taken by the Magellanic Penguins.

“In their tidy black feather tuxedos with their proper posture, they reminded Elliot of himself.”

Elliot identifies with the little dapper dudes so much that he decides to take one home with him… only after first asking his father for permission, of course.

Unfortunately, Elliot’s turtle-obsessed father, distracted by his latest copy National Geographic Magazine misunderstands Elliot’s request, and believes that the boy would simply like to take home a plush penguin from the gift shop. Hilarity ensues, as the young boy turns his room in to an Antarctic wonderland for his new friend, Magellan, and Elliot and his father continue to misinterpret one another. Can Elliot and Magellan successfully evade detection? Readers will be laughing out loud when all comes to light at the end of the story.

I fell in love with David Small’s art at a very young age, when Imogene’s Antlers was my bed-time book of choice (I could, and probably should, write a whole separate post about that one, because it such a personal favorite, so stay tuned). However, his illustrations for One Cool Friend are just as charming. His celebrated mixed-media artwork is full of creative details, interesting snippets of newspapers & maps, and fabulous pops of color. He has also drawn speech and thought bubbles around Elliot & his father’s dialogue, as well as their inside thoughts, which adds a creative, and slightly comic-strip, feel to the text. Readers will find themselves looking back through each page, searching for the small details that hint at the book’s silly conclusion.

One Cool Friend is an absolute joy to read! It is imaginative, hilarious, and adorable. I also find it rather amusing that it is a book about a penguin, and it is published by Dial, which is an imprint of Penguin… is that only funny to me?

Either way, I’m serious folks… this one is a winner…


  1. Dear Cait,
    Thanks so much for this. May I make a link to it on my webpage?
    David Small

    • Of course, thank you so much! You just made my day.
      Keep up the amazing work!

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