I have long loved the gently peculiar perspective Ellen Potter brings to her kid's books (scroll to the end for links to my reviews of her books). Even so, I was a bit cautious when I picked up the first book in her new series, Big Foot and Little Foot, marvelously and generously illustrated Felicita Sala because cryptids, and Bigfoot especially, are close to reaching a saturation point in kid's books. But, I love cryptids and I love Ellen Potter's books and I particularly love a new series that is aimed at readers with approximately a third grade reading level. For years (honestly, the entire 23 years I have worked as a children's bookseller and elementary school librarian), I have struggled to find quality books at this level, so I always give them as big a shout out as I can when they come my way. And Big Foot and Little Foot deserves the biggest shout out of all.
Any concerns and skepticism I had about another cryptid book disappeared by the second page of Big Foot and Little Foot when I read this description of the bedroom of Hugo, the Sasquatch (they prefer this name over Bog Foot) of the title. Hugo and his family live in apartment 1G in the very back of Widdershins Cavern where a nice little stream runs right through Hugo's bedroom. Hugo, who dreams of sailing the seas someday, has a small, carved wooden boat that he sails in this stream, sometimes pretending the fish in the stream are sharks attacking his boat. Quickly, skillfully, and wonderfully brought to life by Sala's illustrations and maps, Potter creates a complete, cozy and somewhat unexpected world for the Sasquatch living in the cold North Woods.
Young Sasquatch are called "squidges," and they all attend the Academy for Curious Squidges where they learn important life skills from their teacher, Mrs. Nukluk. While on a field trip to the woods to practice Hide and Sneak, the class encounters a human boy. Fascinated by the boy, Hugo doesn't follow Sasquatch protocol and is spotted - and the adventure begins. Hugo, saddened that he will never get another chance to see this human because all field trips have been cancelled for the rest of the year (because of him), sends his toy boat downstream and out his room forever. His is amazed when it returns, the next day, with a toy soldier perched inside! Hugo carves a small Sasquatch for the return journey and a correspondence begins.
How Potter has these future friends meet is exciting, suspenseful and ultimately sweet. The Sasquatch of the North Woods prove to be a welcoming, accepting, generous community - something that every child needs to see over and over right now. I am so thrilled with this new series and completely charmed by Potter's creations and Sala's illustrations and have to believe that there is always enough room on the shelf for a Sasquatch like Hugo.
Coming in September!
More by Ellen Potter
Source: Review Copy