TOOFER & THE GIBLET
Illus. by Dmitriy Morozov
December 9, 2021
Two mice embark on a series of misadventures in this chapter book.
Best friends Toofer and The Giblet live together in Humble Tree, which stands somewhere in sprightly, forested Nimblewood. The mice get along well despite their opposite personalities; Toofer is a homebody, while The Giblet yearns for adventure in the great outdoors. Though they don’t venture much farther than Nimblewood, they still find plenty of action. The Giblet, for example, wants to try his paw at swinging through trees after seeing “silly little monkey” Finnegan Flynn glide so effortlessly. But even on quiet days in the woods, The Giblet is such a ham that he keeps things lively. When he finds a new hat, he struts through Nimblewood, positive that everyone will stop to admire and compliment it. He’s also certain that all the animals will show up for his birthday bash, the one Toofer must be secretly planning. They claim they’re getting ready for the River Races, but surely that’s a ruse so as not to spoil a surprise party, right? Through all of The Giblet’s escapades, Toofer stays a loyal chum who keeps him grounded—sometimes literally, as the mouse is prone to climbing trees much higher than he should. The two friends are surrounded by amiable animal neighbors, from Miss Molly the motherly goose and the often feuding tree frog brothers Felipe and Thaddeus to Arthur the mole, whose calm temperament matches Toofer’s. Their everyday lives make Nimblewood a homey place chock-full of stories.
LeBlanc’s endlessly fun children’s book features a winsome cast, starting with the titular pals. It’s clear that his roommate’s shenanigans exhaust Toofer, but he’s never mean and always accommodating. The rest of the cast comprises an array of animals; there’s Jack the brush-tailed rock-wallaby, who plans to take over the world, as well as the ant kingdom that serves “gracious and honorable” Queen Sofie. There are likewise copious lessons that readers will glean. For example, The Giblet fancies a jar of marbles mostly because Grace the squirrel has her eyes on it, but he learns a selfless gift can be an even more prized possession. Though each of the volume’s chapters has a self-contained story, the tales are all part of one cohesive world. Supporting characters pop up throughout the work, as do recurring jokes, like Toofer’s complaints about his consistently messy housemate. LeBlanc aims this smart book at intermediate readers, and spry, entertaining dialogue harmonizes with lyrical details: “They stood at the water’s edge, and The Giblet bent forward, taking in the view of himself mirrored in the moonlit river.” Morozov’s cozy, watercolor illustrations sublimely capture the animals and their forest homes. The artwork is just as irresistible as the characters, such as Finnegan’s donning goggles on his furry head and Miss Molly’s leading her tiny goslings to the beach. Luckily, the author promises there will be more stories about the two fetching heroes and their friendly neighbors.
Charming animal tales starring captivating characters.