Wazzyjump

Michael Moniz, Illustrator
Michael Moniz. Simply Read (Ingram, dist.), $16.95 (44p) ISBN 978-1-897476-58-1
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The forest animals rarely see Wazzy-jump the rabbit, but rumors of his speed and disappearing ability have spread. Lion believes Wazzyjump has magical powers and plots to steal them: “Search the forest,” he commands. “Find Wazzyjump and bring him to me.” It’s an oddly heavy moment in an otherwise sunny story. First-time author/illustrator Moniz’s softly colored watercolors signal benevolence and light; butterflies and birds flit through the forest, and all the animals (except the lion) wear smiles. Patient and clever, Fox is the first to find Wazzyjump, but instead of capturing him, he ends up playing with Wazzyjump, dodging, jumping, and laughing. When Lion finally finds Wazzyjump, he too is disarmed, and his greed for power turns to laughter. Wazzyjump isn’t crafty or sly—he just does what he does best, and in doing so transforms his adversaries. Although it would take skill to elicit the idea in discussion, Moniz introduces the concept of nonviolent confrontation. And despite some awkward dialogue (“What should we do?” “Wow! I don’t know”), the story works as a straightforward adventure, too. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)
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