Age 6 to 9
Written by Griffin Ondaatje
Illustrated by Erica Salcedo
After he nearly drowns in a parking-lot puddle, Dinnn Needles is fearful of many things, including flying. When his four hundred siblings swarm off without him, he finds time to dream —about family stories, a lost brother, adventure in The Wild and, above all, how to be cool.
At school in an abandoned air-conditioner, Dinnn learns about the deadly Pondhawk dragonfly and other dangers that lie beyond his home under a drive-in theater screen. But Dinnn never really takes to city life. Lonely and left out, he is filled with an unexplained longing. He sips spilled cola from abandoned pop cans, but it is not as tasty as flower nectar. He tries to make friends with the local street mosquitoes, but that just lands him in a sewer filled with spiders and water snakes. He hears about the red mini-van that brought his parents together and wonders about his extended family in the country. He even finds a great black jacket in a roadside ditch, but it doesn’t make him cool.
And then one day, as fate would have it, the red mini-van reappears, giving Dinnn a chance to visit to his relatives in The Wild. But in the end Dinnn discovers that being cool is a matter of what you do, especially for one’s friends and family, including two new brothers.
Accompanied by quirky line drawings by Spanish illustrator Erica Salcedo, this is a gently humorous and remarkably informative nature-adventure story about an unlikely pointy-nosed hero with big dreams and an even bigger heart.