Humour abounds in the debut picture book from Kids Can Press marketing director Naseem Hrab. As the new kid in town, Ira Crumb knows how important it is that he makes friends before school starts in September. But he’s not worried. After all, he knows he has a lot to offer: he’s “trustworthy,” “super helpful,” and “really fun to be around.” He just has to convince everyone else of these things.
Each of Ira’s initial failed attempts to win over the neighbourhood is made less tragic by well-placed visual gags and a hefty amount of whimsy. When an offer of pickles is rejected, the anthropomorphized pickle’s expression goes from cheery to glum. A sandwich named Phillip shakes his fist in anger at Ira.
Josh Holinaty has a lot of fun employing a comic-book approach to the illustrations. Exclamations frequently leap out from the page in big, bold font accompanied by splashes of pinks, yellows, and greens. Ira converses with quirky looking characters in comics-like panels that allow for lots of action and keep the storyline moving along at an up-tempo pace that traditional, full-page illustrations might not have allowed.
Hrab, a former librarian, knows what makes kids laugh. This is obvious from a booger joke in the first few pages (sure to grab the attention of the even the most fidgety of listeners) to the many opportunities for funny character voicing (such as the older gentleman who likes Ira’s “moxie” and pronounces sandwich as “sammich”) to the laugh-out-loud pun that closes the book.
There is a lot to giggle at. But amid the laughter are some very good lessons about making friends that will undoubtedly help soothe the anxieties of many children.