Monti and Leo: A Newcomer in Pocketville was a “like” read for me, but not a LIKE read. I enjoyed Sylvie Kantorovitz’s tale of two friends, but there were things that just felt “eh” to me. It was not so much the simplities of the illustrations (sometimes I am a fan of a causal approach; sometimes not as much) as they are expressive in their minimalist detailings, but perhaps something was not moving in the direction I was looking for.
The story is about the new person (Leo) who moves into town. And though, at first, Monti (a long-time resident with a very specific routine) is not a fan of his routine being interrupted, he soon learns to be friends with someone very different from himself (Leo), while realizing their similarities as well. However, Mrs. Sheep is an old busy-body-hen, er sheep, who distrusts Leo from the start, she will not give him or his “strange ideas” (this stranger wants GASP sliced bread!), and tells the town to not trust him or his ideas either. The problem is, many listen to her. Including the fact that a talent show that Leo and Monti are putting on, would be bad for town.
While the storyline is realistic (the fear and distrust of a new person in town and the one person who is the gossip whom people listen too) it was slow moving and Ms. Sheep, while she admits she did not trust Leo, and now you should because of course she was now right to trust him (as she was the star of the show) she never really says she was wrong and sees error in her ways. The thing that I liked, but was also iffy about, is how Monit gets Mrs. Sheep to “allow” the show. This is a bit adultish, and might go over a kid’s head.
I liked how each chapter is its own story, but connected to each other. The theme of best friends and community is familiar. The idea of people thinking are odd, or should not trust each other is similar to Odd Duck by Sara Varon and Cecil Castellucci. Which, though it is from 2013 I just had the opportunity to read and has a very similar feeling, but also very different. And since Monti and Leo is not due until March 2024, go out and find this cute story about two ducks who swim like ducks, quack like ducks, read like ducks, eat like ducks, who also swim with tea cups on their head, quack off key, read not duck books, and occasionally put salsa on their food. Your best friend and yourself should share this book, or go out and get copies for each of you, as you’ll probably not want to part with it.