Title: MY COUSIN MOMO
Written and illustrated by: Zachariah OHora
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015, fiction
For Ages: 3 and UP
Themes/Topics: individuality, trying new things, doing things differently, acceptance, friendship, cousins, squirrels, flying squirrels
This is my cousin Momo!
He’s a flying squirrel!
Summary (from publisher): “When Momo the flying squirrel arrives for a much-anticipated visit with his cousins, they think Momo is no fun until they try doing things his way.”
Why I Like This Book: I was immediately drawn to this story because of its quirky cover. With his enormous eyes and seventies-style headband, Momo’s definitely NOT your typical flying squirrel. I had to see more!
His squirrel cousins are cute in a typical cute-squirrel way and they have been eagerly awaiting his visit. It’s immediately clear that they have one very clear expectation of Momo – that he fly. But Momo is shy and won’t fly on command.
The cousins try to make Momo feel welcome. But they find Momo’s superhero (“MUFFIN MAN”) odd, his Acorn-Pong technique (“CRUNCH CRUNCH”) strange, and his way of playing hide-and-seek (Momo finds an interesting mushroom) “messed up.”
A cousin laments, “We should have invited stinky George instead,” and soon poor Momo is in tears. He packs his bag and sits on the curb.
Luckily, the cousins see the errors of their ways and try things “Momo’s way.” As you can imagine, it turns out that Momo is pretty fun after all.
I love how this story, with both humor and heart-tugs, authentically conveys the value of individuality and trying new things. OHora’s retro illustrations manage to be cool and heartwarming at the same time – a winning combo!
Ideas for Teachers: Teachers might invite students to write about a time they felt like an outsider and/or write about a time when someone else encouraged them to try doing things a different way.
(For a tremendous list of links to picture book reviews, along with resources, please visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s site: http://susannahill.com/for-teachers-and-parents/perfect-picture-books/.)