From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 2—Willems's contemporary fable concerns the way in which a young member of the species "naked mole rats" is different. As the nomenclature suggests, the group does not wear clothing, with the singular exception of Wilbur. His extensive wardrobe, ranging from a tuxedo to a space suit, and his insistence on wearing it, cause much consternation and criticism from his colony. At last, they consult Grand-pah, "the oldest, greatest, and most naked naked mole rat ever." He calls a town meeting. To everyone's surprise, particularly the protagonist's, Grand-pah arrives in a seersucker suit and waxes eloquent on the wisdom of Wilbur's simple question: "Why not?" Converts abound and a celebration ensues in which some dress up and some do not, but everyone has fun. Willems has a talent for creating funny lines, verbally and visually. Beige backgrounds provide an uncluttered stage for his pink creatures with their oversize rectangular heads, each conveying a distinctive personality. Much of the humor resides in the subtle changes in Wilbur's eyes and, of course, in his colorful costumes. Adults will embrace the message of tolerance, happy to have a tale that can be shared with young children. They will also appreciate the hints of Charles Schultz that surface here and there. Kids will giggle-and wish their daily dramas had similar endings. Now, however, they'll have a script.—Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
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Willems begins by giving us all the background we need about naked mole rats: “1. They are a little bit rat. 2. They are a little bit mole. 3. They are all naked.” All except Wilbur, an earnest dandy who can’t resist donning ties, jackets, pants, hats, or even entire superhero or astronaut getups. After all, the more outfits he has, the more he can pretend to be all sorts of different characters. Wilbur’s nude friends are appalled and complain to the colony ruler, who unexpectedly decrees that, from here on, their colony will be clothing-optional. Soon everyone is crazily clad and snapping up duds from Wilbur’s new clothing store. Willems’ art follows the simple style of his Elephant and Piggie books, and is dominated in color by (no surprise) naked-mole-rat pink. An ongoing horizontal line lends continuity to most of the pages, occasionally curving to add simple architecture to the scenes. But mostly it is Wilbur’s guileless observations that will have young readers feeling good about individual expression. Preschool-Grade 2. --Daniel Kraus