Caroline Hadilaksono has hit a home run in Surprise!, her first picture book as both author and illustrator.
Squirrel, Raccoon and Bear are tired of lazing around the woods all day. They decide a new friend would be nice, but making friends doesn’t prove easy. Rabbit is not interested in them, and neither are the birds. Turtle won’t even poke his head out of his shell.
Luckily, a family of city folks sets up camp in the woods and the three furry friends decide to throw them a welcome party. It will be a splendid affair with refreshments from the cooler, ketchup and mustard for decorating, and tomatoes and eggs for Squirrel to juggle. Bear makes pine cone party hats, too, all for the new friends.
Surprise! When the city folks return, it seems a mischievous squirrel and a fiesty raccoon are messing up their campsite. (They don’t seem to understand that it’s a welcome party.) When Bear arrives with the party hats, the family screams and scatters, leaving everything behind. The three animals aren’t sure why their new friends left so soon, but they have a splendid time together, just the three of them.
Children will delight in the pages that detail the party preparations: Raccoon ransacks packs of chips and cookies and Bear hangs a stringof hot dog links, from tree to tree like crepe paper. Hadilaksono’s illustrations and story are cheerful and lively, making Surprise! a tummy-tickling read.