Rosemary Wells is one of a handful of picture book author/illustrators, along with the magnificent Kevin Henkes, that I discovered more than twenty years ago when my first child was born. Wells and Henkes, both of whom are also gifted writers of chapter books for older readers, have this remarkable insight into children and the emotional ups and downs of being a little kid. Their picture books combine empathy, compassion and intelligent humor (as well as great vocabulary) with meaningful stories that never get old. Happily, two decades later, both Wells and Henkes continue to create wonderful picture books that I am always excited to read, even if my daughter can't sit in my lap to listen anymore...
With Felix Stands Tall, Wells revisits Felix the guinea pig. When Fiona asks if she can be Felix's best friend and he agrees, she tells him it's settled - the will be in the talent show at the Guinea Pig Jubilee and they will win first prize! She goes on to tell Felix that they will sing, "There's a Pixie in My Garden." When Felix asks if they have to, she assures him that best friends do everything together. Feeling reassured, Felix has his mother make him a boy pixie costume to go with Fiona's girl pixie costume (hand drawn patterns for the costumes make charming front pieces) and he learns the song and dance. And they do win!
Sadly, this is where things start to get bad for Felix. Minkie, Bucky and Dimples begin to tease Felix , at first just with words, but eventually with pranks like putting a Slime Creeper down his shirt and a chirping plastic cricket in his egg-salad sandwich. At lunch, Fiona notices something is up and tells Felix he is a "hot mess." While this may seem out of place for the tone Wells creates in Felix Stands Tall, it is delivered with such matter-of-factness from Fiona that it is downright hilarious. Wells has a distinct gift for comedic delivery in her characters - Ruby, the long suffering big sister to Max, comes to mind - and it comes through in the bold Fiona. Fiona shares the secret to her bravery with Felix (in a very sweet way that I could see kids trying out themselves) and it works for him! He even has the courage to counter Fiona's suggestion that they wear twin cupcake costumes for Halloween with an idea of his own - fire breathing dragons, the pattern for which appears on the endpapers!
Yet another hit out of the park for Rosemary Wells! You can read my reviews of other books by Wells - picture and chapter - here.
More Felix books!
And just a few of my favorite
Rosemary Wells picture books:
Source: Review Copy