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Reviewed by Fiona Ingram for Readers' Favorite
Johnnie Mr. Tough Guy is an adorable children’s picture book written by Raffaella Buffolino and illustrated by Michael Monochello. Johnnie is a tough little guy, and he isn’t afraid of anything – bugs, storms, monsters, not even the kid next door. When his mom says they’re going to visit the zoo that day, Johnnie decides to find an animal there that’s as tough as he feels he is. They go early and so there are no crowds and long lines of visitors. Johnnie and his mom have the place to themselves. Johnnie visits a number of exhibits – the lion, the gorilla, the giraffe, the snakes, the elephants, the hippos – and tries to decide who is the toughest guy there… He thinks about what the zookeeper said about the lion; even in a cage, the lion was still the king. Johnnie wonders if he is as tough as the lion. Is he the king of the house, like the lion? The answer will surprise readers.
This is a delightful book that gives children food for thought as Johnnie examines each animal and comes to his own conclusion about it. I liked that Johnnie had his own opinions and related each animal to his experiences or people in his life. The illustrations are well done and brightly colored, the type that grabs a young reader’s attention and makes them want to discover more. The cartoon images above each actual animal image are just wonderful and I loved the imaginative take on the rat and the snake. There is a lot for children to explore in each illustration and these offer topics for debate. Parents and teachers can use this book for further discussion, as well as some research into wildlife. This is a delightful, deceptively simple tale that offers youngsters a lot more than at first glance.