This sly story about a little boy and his lucky socks is one of those genuine pleasures that bring an unexpected smile to your face. Kevin is a small-time, hard-luck guy until the day he wears a pair of yellow socks and things change for the better. He gets chosen to be the star (literally) in the school play; he finds some ice cream in the freezer while visiting at a friend’s house; his basketball improves, as does his penmanship; and the school doesn’t serve meatloaf surprise for lunch.
Life feels like a carnival for Kevin until he loses the yellow socks—and on his school’s field day at that. His mother can only suggest a pair of old yellow underpants as a substitute. Kevin has a rough go at the events; he doesn’t finish in the running for anything, though he partakes in every contest. But his teacher is no fool, and she awards Kevin a special medal for trying hard at everything. The smile on his face will melt your heart, as will the finale: “Now Kevin doesn’t mind what color socks he wears. . . . But he’s very fond of his yellow underpants.”
The writing is wonderfully understated and it fits with Middleton’s art like a dream. Middleton (Tabitha’s Terrifically Tough Tooth, 2000) has also added atmosphere-rich asides—a block-headed cat batting at a butterfly from atop a tent or Kevin’s grim, snaggle-toothed mouth as he administers another forkful of meatloaf surprise (this on a striped-sock day)—while laying down great sheets of color upon which she arrays her charming characters. Absolutely top drawer—even though Kevin didn’t find his socks there. (Picture book. 4-6)