I am completely in love with Hello, Mr. Dodo!, the newest picture book from Nicholas John Frith. I do happen to be predisposed to falling for Hello, Mr. Dodo!, having a fascination with the dodo bird that goes back to my childhood when I first encountered one in a Looney Toons cartoon. But I am also a discerning fan of this extinct creature and Frith presents both the bird and his story in an absolutely charming way that would win my affection despite my feelings for the dodo bird.
Frith uses a vintage illustration style and palette that works superbly with his subject in Hello, Mr. Dodo! Martha, who is "cuckoo about birds," knows every bird in the woods behind her house until she encounters the dodo. Unsure of his species, she calls him, "Mr. Whoever-You-Are," and wins his trust with her gentle ways.
Back at home, Martha's research reveals that the bird she has befriended is extinct, having been hunted and "eaten for dinner." Clever Martha quickly decides that no one is eating her new friend for dinner and she keeps the dodo a wonderful secret, playing cards with him (dodos are terrible at snap) and sharing snacks with him (dodos love doughnuts) until she makes one terrible slip of the tongue.
Martha makes a tough decision that means saying goodbye to her new friend. She wonders about him through autumn and winter and, when spring comes, she decides to head out into the woods with a bag of doughnuts where she makes a happy discovery!
Hello, Mr. Dodo! is marvelously written. Frith's plot is unpredictable and his story is fresh. I read over a hundred picture books a year - two or three times more than what I end up reviewing here - and it's rare to find a book like Hello, Mr. Dodo that stands out for both a memorable plot and stellar illustrations. Frith's book is definitely one that children will remember well into adulthood and I have no doubt that it will also lead to some inquiries into this extinct creature by all little listeners who are lucky enough to encounter this book!
Source: Review Copy