Review by Kelly Carey
If you have ever been a substitute teacher and had to contend with a constant barrage of “that’s not the way we do it”, this lovable and laughable picture book is for you! The Creature of Habit (Random House Studio, 2021), by Jennifer E. Smith and illustrated by Leo Espinosa, tells the story of an island dwelling creature who loves his routine. He does everything the exact same way every day. When a surprise newcomer arrives the Creature of Habit shows him the daily schedule, but the newcomer breaks with the plan. The result is fun, silly, and charming for the reader but “absolute madness” for the Creature of Habit. With colorful and fanciful illustrations filled with pineapples and seashells this story is a tropical reminder that mixing things up every once in a while, can be amazing.
If you are looking for a humorous comp title featuring a bit of wordplay, The Creature of Habit would be a fabulous choice. But don’t miss the opportunity to study Smith’s use of varied sentence structure. This is a great mentor text to examine the way long vs short, and serious vs silly sentences can move plot, create tension, drive pacing, and enhance readability. Smith also stays fully focused on her kid audience as she moves her characters through hysterical antics and keeps the mood light using pineapples, bananas, and fish. The result is a kid friendly story filled with giggly moments hiding a deeper message about breaking out of a routine and trying something new. Perhaps reading The Creature of Habit will help you find something new in your manuscripts.
Learn more about Jennifer E. Smith here. And explore Leo Espinosa's portfolio here.
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