Toofer and The Giblet
Paulette LeBlanc; illustrations by Dmitry Morozov
Dragon Horse Publishing, 94 pages, (hardcover) $18.99,
(Reviewed: March 2022)
In this warm, thought-provoking middle-grade book, two mice share a home and are best friends, despite their different personalities.
The book is divided into ten chapters, each teaching a different life lesson as Toofer and The Giblet interact with each other and the animals that live in Nimblewood. The Giblet is impulsive, messy and imaginative— Oscar Madison to fastidious, practical Toofer’s Felix Unger.
In “A New Hat for The Giblet,” The Giblet dons a hat he finds on a fencepost. His ego swells, imagining everyone he meets is impressed by his hat. Toofer gently brings him down to earth, telling him, “Never confuse what’s on you for what’s in you.”
In “A Gift from Grace,” The Giblet refuses Grace the squirrel’s offer to trade the glass jar that holds his marbles for anything in her basement. But his smugness over having the jar comes to a screeching halt when he trips and it breaks. Grace tells him “It’s natural to want to hold on to the things that we cherish. Just keep in mind that if you choose to hold on so tightly that nothing gets out, you may close your hands on anything getting in.”
LeBlanc uses a similar light touch in addressing topics such as accepting loss and managing expectations. Each chapter encourages discussion and is a good length to read aloud to a child at bedtime. LeBlanc imparts her lessons subtly, never with a heavy hand. And Toofer and The Giblet both have strengths and weaknesses, lending them an authenticity shared by all of the best characters in children’s literature: Toad from The Wind in the Willows, for example, or Harriet Welsch in Harriet the Spy.
The watercolor illustrations and cover design are utterly enchanting, with glowing, jewel-like colors and intricate details well worth lingering over.
In all, Toofer and The Giblet is a book readers will savor and read again and again, joyfully discovering something new each time.