I love Matt Phelan. His graphi novels tackle serious, intriguing subjects while preserving a sense of playfulness that takes center stage in the picture books that he illustrates. Druthers, Phelan's newest picture book (and, if I did my research accurately, his first picture book as author and illustrator) is perfectly playful and especially sweet.
It's a rainy day and Penelope has almost reached that point of painful boredom in little kids where things turn ugly. Her father says to her, "If you had your druthers, what would you do?" Not sure what "druthers" are, he tells Penelope, "Druthers are what you would rather do if you could do anything at all." Penelope looks skeptically at her father as he explains this. But, after some thought, her imagination kicks in and she is on a roll, her father in tow.
If she had her druthers, Penelope would go to the zoo, be a cowgirl and a pirate captain. With each page turn we see the toys and accoutrements that allow Penelope and her father to play along with her druthers.
From pirate captain, Penelope's imagination takes off like a rocket and the pair head to the island of the dinosaurs, then the moon for a party. Phelan ends Druthers with Penelope saying to her father, "I guess if I really had my druthers . . . it would rain tomorrow too."
Source: Review Copy