Sydney and Taylor Explore the Whole Wide World by Jacqueline Davies, illustrated by Deborah Hocking (released February 2)

Published by HMH Books for Young Readers Sydney and Taylor Explore the Whole Wide World (9780358106319):  Davies, Jacqueline, Hocking, Deborah: Books

Summary:  Sydney the skunk and Taylor the hedgehog live in a burrow under Miss Nancy’s potting shed.  Sydney’s pretty happy staying at home, warming his feet by the fire, but Taylor has an itch to explore.  So Sydney, a supportive friend, agrees to go on an adventure with Taylor.  After a few packing mishaps, the two set off, map in hand, to explore the world.  Danger awaits them everywhere, as they get lost, face down an angry dog, and almost get run over by a truck.  Taylor has an unfortunate tendency to roll himself, hedgehog-style, into a ball, and it’s up to Sydney to figure out a solution to their problems.  Miss Nancy proves herself an unexpected ally as well.  They finally make it safely back to the burrow, where Sydney proclaims it “the best expedition ever,” before adding, “Promise me we’ll never do it again.”  80 pages; grades 1-3.

Pros:  This cozy friendship story will undoubtedly charm those just beginning to read chapter books.  I loved the opening illustration of the two friends’ burrow, and the pictures throughout were pretty appealing.  I couldn’t help wondering if the animals’ names were an homage to All-of-a-Kind-Family author Sydney Taylor.

Cons:  As animal friendship stories for beginning readers go, this one didn’t feel terribly original.

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