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story.lead_photo.caption I'm a Gnome! By Jessica Peill-Meininghaus and illustrated by Poly Bernatene (Crown Books for Young Readers, Aug. 13, 2019), 40 pages, $17.99. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/CELIA STOREY)

TITLE: I'm a Gnome!

Written by Jessica Peill-Meininghaus, illustrated by Poly Bernatene (Crown Books for Young Readers, on sale Tuesday), 40 pages, $17.99 hardcover, $10.99 ebook.

STORY: We are invited to the Gnome Festival, and our guide is a gnome — not an elf, dwarf, troll or fairy.

No, our gnome is nothing at all like those other magical forest denizens — which he takes pains to remind us as we pass their hollow-tree homes, working caves, swampy bridge abutments and glittery brook-side hangouts. He explains the not-at-all-gnomish features of each non-gnome species, but as he talks he tangles himself in the fact that sometimes, oops, gnomes are just like that.

For example, gnomes are not dwarves. Dwarves use pickaxes and can be grumpy. Gnomes never use picks ... except for that one time when Uncle Finklewink got stuck between boulders and the gnomes had to use a pick to get him out. But that doesn't really count. "And whatever you do, don't tell him I told you that!"

Our gnome inadvertently undermines every claim he makes for gnome exceptionalism so that when we reach their fest, we notice that they're doing everything he told us they never do.

It's a fun and funny story, and Poly Bernatene's splendid illustrations make it a beautiful one, too.

Read to Me is a weekly review of short books.

Style on 08/12/2019

Print Headline: READ TO ME

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