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One Cool Friend Hardcover – January 10, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Polite, bow-tie-and-suit-wearing Elliot is none too excited when his father suggests attending Family Fun Day at the aquarium. But once he is there, he is drawn to the Magellanic penguins, whose tidy black feather tuxedos with their proper posture remind Elliot of himself. So he decides to sneak one home in his backpack, under his father’s seemingly oblivious eye. Once home, Elliot and his new penguin pal dine on frozen anchovy pizzas, share Goldfish crackers, and skate on a mini ice rink in his room (created with a wading pool and hose)—all the while his father is blithely engaged with his atlas, maps, and charts and appears not to notice the goings-on. Small’s black-and-white line illustrations with pops of soft color are an artful blend of elegance, wit, and whimsy. They echo and complement the text and depict expressive characters, including the playful penguin. This charming picture book has many humorous details throughout, and kids will likely laugh out loud at the surprise ending—particularly for the father! Grades K-3. --Shelle Rosenfeld

Review

STARRED REVIEW "The book's humor is built on gentle misunderstandings between father and son (when Elliot asks for a penguin, his father assumes he means a stuffed one from the aquarium gift shop). . . The revelation that they're not so dissimilar after all is about as sweet as it gets. " Publisher's Weekly, 10-31-11

STARRED REVIEW "A real kid charmer that will elicit "Read it again!" responses." School Library Journal 2-1-12

"In line with Buzzeo's elegantly spare text, Small uses neutral washes with loosely drawn lines and highlights of restrained color to depict the urbane lad and his equally dapper companion making themselves comfortably at home in upper-crust digs.  A happy tale of domestic amity, with a well-set-up punchline." Kirkus 12-1-11

"Small's black-and-white line illustrations with pops of soft color are an artful blend of elegance, wit, and whimsy. They echo and complement the text and depict expressive characters, including the playful penguin." Booklist 1-1-12

"The comic characterizations of Elliott and his father, and Small's lively ink, watercolor, and colored pencil illustrations--especially those featuring the penguin (he skates with flair and looks adorable in a bike helmet en route to the library)--will make this a popular choice for both reading aloud and reading alone." BCCB 2-12

“The surprise ending has the same satisfying sensibility as Jules Feiffer’s Bark, George. A real kid charmer that will elicit ‘Read it again!’ responses.” (Starred) — School Library Journal

"The book’s humor is built on gentle misunderstandings between father and son (when Elliot asks for a penguin, his father assumes he means a stuffed one from the aquarium gift shop). . . A boy-and-his-pet story [that's] about as sweet as it gets." (Starred) — Publishers Weekly

"Elliot, clad in a proper black suit, discovers the perfect pet when he and his dad visit the aquarium . . . Charming illustrations [draw] the eye to funny little details . . . Highly recommended." (starred) — Library Media Connection

“This charming picture book has many humorous details throughout, and kids will likely laugh out loud at the surprise (particularly for father!) ending.” — Booklist

“Suitable for both story time and closer observation, the illustrations (including the comical Magellan) complement the child-friendly premise and will certainly attract young readers to this quirky tale.” — Horn Book

“The comic characterizations of Elliott and his father, and Small’s lively ink, watercolor, and colored pencil illustrations […] will make this a popular choice for both reading aloud and reading alone.” — BCCB

“A happy tale of domestic amity, with a well-set-up punchline.” — Kirkus Reviews

2013 Caldecott Honor Book
2013 Notable Children's Book
New York Times Best Seller
Junior Library Guild Selection
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 620L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Books; First Edition edition (January 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803734131
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803734135
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 0.4 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,036 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Toni Buzzeo (1951- ), the acclaimed author of 20 picture books as well as 11 books for educators, was born in Dearborn, Michigan and grew up in the Dearborn Public Libraries, reading nearly every book in the children's and young adult sections of the Snow Branch library before taking a job downtown at the Main library as a Library Page and then a Library Assistant to put herself through college.

After earning a BA and MA in English from the University of Michigan, she worked for a decade as a college and high school English teacher. She then earned an MLIS from the University of Rhode Island and returned to libraries as a school librarian. She was named Maine Library Media Specialist of the Year in 1999 and continued to work as an elementary school librarian while she launched a successful writing career.

In 2013, Toni's New York Times best-selling book One Cool Friend, illustrated by David Small, won a Caldecott Honor. It also won the Maine Literary Award for Children's Books from the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance in the same year.

Since her first book, The Sea Chest, won a Maine Lupine Honor in 2003, Toni has received many other awards for her books, including a 2004-2005 Children's Gallery Award, also for The Sea Chest, and the 2012 Time of Wonder award for Lighthouse Christmas. Her books Dawdle Duckling, Little Loon and Papa, and One Cool Friend have been chosen by the Dolly Parton Imagination Library for international distribution to young children. Just Like My Papa, Stay Close to Mama, and Dawdle Duckling have all been Children's Book of the Month Club selections as well. Toni currently has four more picture books under contract.

Toni is a bit of a vagabond, writing in a charming writing cottage built by her husband on 35 acres of a colonial farm in Buxton, Maine, writing at the Cambridge Public Library near her grandbaby in Massachusetts, and slipping down to write in her sunny winter nest in Sarasota, Florida when the weather turns blustery at home.

A well-known speaker, Toni speaks extensively in schools as well as at conferences and district and regional professional development trainings, both nationally and internationally. Visit her website at www.tonibuzzeo.com.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Nancy on January 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Upon first reading, you'll think the boy-and-his-pet story at the heart of the delightful ONE COOL FRIEND is driven by gentle misunderstandings between Eliot and his father -- only to get egg on your face at the last page turn. David Small's witty illustrations are a perfect match with Toni Buzzeo's deceptively straightforward text, and the two together usher the reader right down the garden path to the warm and hilarious ending. Both the text and illustrations contain "Easter eggs" that reward multiple re-readings, so this one will entertain again and again and again." (Starred review) ~ Nancy Werlin
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Marci on January 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Every school has the "school-wide unit", and in elementary schools in January, that nearly always involves penguins. Let's face it, aquariums, movies and sea/ocean parks have worked relentlessly to make penguins a part of every child's psyche. So, it isn't difficult to imagine that a boy would want a penguin as his personal pet. And when Elliot, a very proper, tuxedo-clad young man, visits the aquarium with his rather distracted father, it is no surprise he finds Magellanic penguins fit him to a "T".

After that, however, surprises, giggles and delight abound. Permission from his unsuspecting father allows Elliot to perpetrate a penguin popping adventure: into the backpack; a bedroom skating-rink; a library research visit; a mid-night freezer caper and a dip in the tub. While we fear that discovery awaits our heroes, we are not disappointed with this ending that is a discovery for us as well.

David Small's ink and watercolor illustrations compliment this quirky story with imaginative and humorous detail. And, in the end, they help us understand how much Elliot and his father have in common.

So, if your school does a Penguin Unit, or if you are driven to provide wonderful literature for your students on topics they love, this is really the must-have book this January.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Booktoo on January 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
One Cool Friend (Hardcover) Elliot and his father have a lot in common. Author Toni Buzzeo writes how they enjoy spending time at the local aquarium. David Small indicates through his whimsical illustrations that both are avid readers and independent thinkers.
In this imaginative story the speech bubbles cleverly advance the conversation between father and son. We follow Elliot, the proper young man, as he problem solves his friendship with his "one cool friend."
I love the David Small artwork with his minimal use of color, offbeat perspectives, especially the inventive facial expressions. This book could be used with an Explorers Unit, Geography, familial relationships, Habitats and a study of pets. [Which animals make the best pets and why !!!]
Toni Buzzeo and David Small together...what an energetic and creative team!
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Format: Hardcover
Elliot was one of those boys who was very prim and proper and he looked the part. In fact, he wore a tuxedo. Yes, a tuxedo. His father sat on one edge of their very proper Victorian couch while Elliot sat on the other end. His father peered over the edge of his glasses and asked, "Family Fund Day at the aquarium. Shall we go?" Elliot answered in the affirmative. "Thank you for inviting me." NOT. It was those "kids, masses of noisy kid" outings. Once they arrived at the aquarium, Elliot's father, who was dressed in a not-so-stylish plaid casual suit, plunked himself on a bench to read the "National Geographic."

Elliot was off and running, but made sure he avoided the "mobs of kids at the Giant Saltwater Tank, Amazing Jellies Display, and Hands-on Tide Pool Exhibit." Nope, that was not for prim and proper Elliot. Instead he moved right on by them and discovered a pool of PENGUINS! Of course they were his cup of tea because they too wore "tidy black feather tuxedos" and had "proper posture." When he went back to ask his father, who was still looking at things in that "National Geographic," he asked if he could have a Penguin. Well, $19.95 wasn't too much to ask for a stuffie, but Elliot had other things in mind ...

This is a prim, proper, and hilarious little tale about Elliot and his pilfered penguin. The delightful, unexpected twist at the end will make both young and old readers break into smiles. Elliot, a boy who was up to a lot of shenanigans throughout this tale, turned out to be his father's son after all. Small's artwork was crisp, bold, and he used light touches of color (loved that suit!) with his usual aplomb. This type of tale is one that children will ask for time and time again, one that is destined to become a classic "Penguin" tale. If you're into penguins and love impish mischief makers, this one should be one your list!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By B. Martiny on January 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
One Cool Friend is loaded with lots of fun word play. Fun read aloud that gives opportunities for elementary teachers and librarians to use the clever curriculum connections in science and social studies. Our very proper and polite young main character, Elliot, is invited by his father to family day at the aquarium. Elliot is quite an explorer. Not wanting to follow the crowd, he goes off to discover penguins and is totally intrigued. He asks his father if he can have a penguin and then the real fun of this story begins. Lots of misunderstandings later the reader is delighted in a great surprise ending. This is one that will be asked for over and over. David Small's playful illustrations put the finishing touches on this great new picture book by an author who has given us so many great books to engage students in the library. Check out Toni Buezzo's website for the companion theater script for One Cool Friend!
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