Book review: The Three Mouths of Little Tom Drum, by Nancy Willard, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

Willard, Nancy. The Three Mouths of Little Tom Drum. Il. by Kevin Hawkes. Candlewick. 2015. $16.99. unp. 978-0-7636-5476-4. Ages 5-8. P9Q9

Willard Three Mouths of Little Tom DrumIn this picture book from a Newbery Medalist, 8-year-old Tom Drum lives his life being different because he wanted just one more small piece of strawberry pie. After he acquires two extra mouths, his parents try to protect him by schooling him at home and keeping him from public sight. The bright boy deals with his loneliness by inventing a number of things—a telescope with ears, a hat tipper, artificial paws for dogs. etc. He has high hopes for wishing away his extra mouths with a wishing machine that appears on his doorstep, but before he has any success, he finds that he can solve others’ problems through his creative mind. The modern fairy tale, highlighted by old-time clothing, shows children growing to love Tom because they are fascinated by his inventions before he regains his former appearance after a year. Soft pen, ink, and pastels give a traditional small-town feeling. Some people may find Tom’s appearance unnerving, just as his parents do, but others will accept his desire to help others as the children do. It’s a thoughtful book about looking beyond appearance to accept people.

Summer 2015 reviews by Nel Ward.

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