Publisher: Puffin

It’s Kit’s birthday, and her parents buy her a guinea pig. Surprisingly, the guinea pig wears a judo suit – and, when the other pets ask her, she explains that she does judo, but has no idea about Animal World, their favourite TV show. The other pets decide that the new guinea pig is a weirdo, and leave her in her box all day.

Yet when Weirdo accidentally finds herself on the wrong side of the front door, she meets Emily Brookstein, a neighbour who rather enjoys being “weird”, whatever that may mean. And when Kit gets home, she gives Weirdo a nice new name and a snuggly hug and introduces her properly to the other pets – who, it turns out, are actually quite interested to learn a few judo moves…

A rather lovely picture book about being unafraid to be yourself, Weirdo features absolutely stunningly warm, characterful and adorable illustration from Magenta Fox, and a nicely paced text from Smith and Laird, who are usually found writing for adults. Their debut picture book brims with relatable feeling and a pleasantly modern look, which nonetheless captures the classic feel of Judith Kerr’s Mog books in their simplicity, animal characters and the everyday life of families, as well as Fox’s clear, warm style. Even the endpapers are full of lovely detail and show all the different families in a small block of flats – a lovely touch.

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