"Tou-Can't! A Little Sister Story" By Brandon Todd (Philomel Books, July 20), ages 3-7, 32 pages, $17.99.
In this otherwise realistic story, an anthropomorphized toucan envies her older sister's abilities. The older sister also is a toucan, but larger, and she has blue eyes while our heroine has rosy-pink eyes (not pinkeye — only her irises are pink). So it's easy enough to tell the two toucans apart.
Big Sister can tie her own shoes. She says, "I tou-can." Little Sister wails, "I tou-can't" while tangled in her laces. Big Sister makes her own breakfast ("I tou-can"). She reads books by herself ("I tou-can"). Little Sister becomes, predictably, more and more unhappy, and her funny attempts to grow big fall flat.
But then the big sister catches a cold and "tou-can't." Little Sister helps her in small ways, feeling empowered-- until she tries to reach the candy on top of the refrigerator. Her big sister hurries to save her. And they live happily ever after.
The main problem I foresee in sharing this book with my grandgirls will be that the smaller one already knows how to tie her shoes, pour cereal and look at books by herself. So she will resent the suggestion she's like that smaller bird. But she certainly ought to recognize her conflicted feelings about her big sister.
Author Brandon Todd is an animator who illustrated Dev Petty's "The Bear Must Go On" ( in 2019), about a bear with stage fright. His style here is very different, with softer colors, more texture and, to my eye, cuter characters.
Read to Me is a weekly review of short books.