Monti and Leo: A Newcomer in Pocketville

 
4.8 (2)
 
0.0 (0)
66 0
Monti and Leo: A Newcomer in Pocketville
Age Range
6+
Release Date
May 07, 2024
ISBN
978-1536222777
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A charming early reader in graphic form draws on the classic theme of friendship to show that being new—or different—doesn’t have to mean being lonely.

Pocketville is a small town, set in its ways, and the arrival of a stranger causes a stir. Monti the mole is stunned one morning to find Leo the lizard hogging his special reading rock. When Monti visits the bakery and the library, he learns that the last cinnamon roll has been purchased, and the book he was waiting for has been checked out. What’s a fastidious mole to do? When Monti confronts Leo, the newcomer turns out to be agreeable in the extreme, and friendship is a given. Now to convince the town’s cantankerous baker, Ms. Sheep, to stop turning everyone against Leo. Together, Monti and Leo hatch a plot that will have Ms. Sheep singing Leo’s praises in no time. This reassuring tale of friendship against the odds from the creator of the graphic memoir Sylvie draws on the author’s experiences as an immigrant and will appeal to anyone who has struggled to fit in in a new place.

Editor reviews

2 reviews
A helper among the loud voices
Overall rating
 
4.8
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
4.0
Monti and Leo is a graphic novel for early chapter book readers. It focuses on Leo being new to town and having a hard time being welcomed. Mrs. Sheep does not like strangers or change; making her an important character because even though Monti tries to comfort Leo by saying she is full of nonsense; Leo says she is loud and people listen to her. I love that this point is made in a world of social media. This book perfectly illustrates how loud people influence the choices and opinions of others and just because they are out there with their opinion doesn’t make them right. I like that Monti’s character has ways to diffuse Mrs. Sheep and bring her on board without having a conflict with her. This book leads to perfect discussion opportunities. The graphic novel layout leads to a quick read giving confidence to reluctant or struggling readers who need bigger books with complex ideas while still receiving support. Overall, this was a feel-good story about friendship with a good side story on gossip and how to handle it. I can see fans of Frog and Toad who are ready for more complex plots appreciating this new series.
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Mole and Lizard Together
Overall rating
 
4.8
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
5.0
Life is pretty perfect in Pocketville for Monti Mole. He has his routine, which includes a visit to Mrs. Sheep's bakery to get a treat, a trip to the library for reading material, and a brief spell of communing with nature by sitting on his favorite rock by a river while enjoys the fruits of his first two outings! One day, there is a buzz in the bakery about someone new in town. This, of course, has to be bad, but it gets worse when Monti finds an interloper sitting on HIS rock. He silently fumes, and thinks of ways he can challenge this outside. The next day, when he finds out that the newcomer has bought the last two cinnamon rolls and checked out the book he needs, he is fully prepared to give the meddling lizard what for. However, Leo introduces himself, offers Monti a cinnamon roll, and promises to finish the book that night so that Monti can read it. Mrs. Sheep makes negative comments about Leo when he suggests that she offer sliced bread, but Monti stands up for his new friend. Not only that, but he introduces Leo to his friends, and the two plan a talent show to try to get into everyone's good graces. Mrs. Sheep is flattered when they ask her to sing, and she uses her influence to entice others to participate. In the end, Pocketville is a little different, but sometimes change makes things better.

Good Points
This is roughly the size of an I Can Read book, and has a similar level of text complexity. The difference is in how the illustrations are arranged. They aren't quite in a comic book style, but there is some of this style in the way the pictures are arranged. The text is in about a 14 point font, so it's perfect practice for readers who are not quite ready for chapter books, but almost there.

The illustrations have a clean line, and a fresh and modern feel to the pictures. The color palette includes a lot of soft teal, which might just be the color of the 2020s! The animals have the stylized feel of Marc Brown's Arthur characters, with a very human physique but animal snouts.

I can see this book (which has a sequel, A Mystery in Pocketville, out in February of 2025) being compared to Lobel's Frog and Toad or even Marshall's George and Martha, and there are some similarities in the reading level and general themes of friendship. Those classic tales always struck me as being overly philosophical and allegorical, which is something that adults certainly enjoy. I liked the straight forward style of this a bit better, especially where young readers are concerned, and would hand this to fans of other early chapter books like Petrick's One Cool Duck, Sherry's Fish Feud, or Braddock's Peanut, Butter, and Cracker.
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