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By The Time You Read This

by Jennifer Lanthier; Patricia Storms (ill.)

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Author Jennifer Lanthier uses a fun format and some great vocabulary to shepherd young readers through her engaging picture book, which begins on a mysterious note: in the wake of some dramatic – and initially unrevealed – occurrence, a boy holds the beginnings of the ultimate goodbye letter in his cast-bound broken hand. “To my mortal enemy,” it reads, “By the time you read this …”

Over the pages that follow, we witness young Oscar – the letter writer – dismantle the evidence of a really fun friendship. The Scientific Experiment of Glorious Doom? Terminated. (Kaboom.) The Indestructible Fortress of Fiendishness? Destroyed. All before the letter is even delivered to its intended target.

The cause of all this anger and destruction is revealed when Oscar visits the skate park and remembers the trick that went sour, resulting in a hard landing and the cast on his arm. In flashback, we are introduced to the letter’s intended recipient, a girl named Sam, who is pictured laughing at Oscar’s accident. But then the story reverts to the present, when Sam approaches Oscar with a heartfelt apology. A lesson in forgiveness is provided as the wounded Oscar accepts the apology and allows the friendship to move past old hurts. A new adventure for the duo awaits: in outer space aboard a Planetary Pirate Ship.

Veteran children’s illustrator Patricia Storms (The Pirate and the Penguin) makes every scene shine with detailed, bright ink-brush depictions. It’s the illustrations that bring the friendship to vivid life, and tell much of the tale – we see Oscar’s memory of his and Sam’s previous escapades, just as we see him taking apart the playdate constructions they produced. Children will love hunting for hilarious surprise elements added to every page through Storms’s signature comic touch. Hidden in the dust jacket, readers will find a flip-a-coin Sam and Oscar board game, rounding out the unexpected extras in this colourful gem.