School Library Journal

School Library Journal: Absolutely Not

This unpretentious story about friendship has a twist borrowed from “The Blind Man and the Elephant” that separates it from the pack. Dressed up in elegant outfits, in complementary shades of lavender and periwinkle, two green bugs share a companionable walk. Gloria is eager to participate fully in the beautiful day; Frieda is timid and imagines danger everywhere. What Frieda sees as a snake, Gloria recognizes as a river. Gloria’s lovely log looks to Frieda like a dog. After having an enjoyable time in spite of herself, Frieda reluctantly agrees to take Gloria’s shortcut home through the woods (“Have I been wrong so far?”) and indeed Frieda’s fears are realized. The friends narrowly escape, but make plans for another walk the next day. McElligott’s simple and attractive layout; the clean, orderly pencil-and-watercolor illustrations; and the straightforward text with its predictable aspects all work together to keep readers inside the joke. Absolutely Not offers young readers a rare chance to synthesize verbal and graphic clues and figure out for themselves what’s what. It all adds up to a dash of emerging literacy and a splash of fun.