The Someone New

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
The Someone New Book Poster Image
Critters accept a snail looking for a new home in warm tale.

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Shows different animals, a butterfly, and a snail in a woodland, riverside environment. 

Positive Messages

Even though "new can be scary, kindness is stronger than fear." Sometimes folks are afraid of anyone who's new or different. When someone becomes a friend, it can fel like you've known that person forever. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jitterbug the chipmunk is scared of someone new at first, but then apologizes for turning him away, asks him to stay. The other creatures help Jitterbug understand that they were once the Someone New, too.  

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Someone New is by author Jill Twiss and illustrator EG Keller, the team that created Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents: A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo. It tells the story of a chipmunk who isn't too happy when a snail arrives after a flood wiped out his garden, hoping to make his new home in the forest with the chipmunk and her animal friends. The chipmunk eventually comes around, after her friends explain that they were once new to their forest and river, too. It's a gentle fable that echoes the real-world immigration debate and teaches the values of kindness, empathy, and inclusion. It's also a good story for anyone who's ever felt like an outsider trying to fit in at a new new school or with a group of established friends. 

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What's the story?

Jitterbug the chipmunk senses there's something new in her woodland world and then sees a backpack-wearing snail approaching. The snail is named Pudding, and he explains that his garden was flooded by a big storm, so he's wondering if he can make a new, safe home in the forest with Jitterbug and her friends the river otters, a goose, and a butterfly.  Jitterbug says no -- she wants everything to stay the same. But then the butterfly says, "Did you know that I was New once? I used to be a caterpillar!" The goose says, "I was also New once. I used to live in a beautiful lake. Then people started to fill it with garbage until it wasn't safe for me anymore. That's when I came here." Jitterbug goes back to Pudding and says, "I was wrong! Please, please come live with us!" And he stays, and they all become good friends. "Pretty soon it felt like Pudding had been there Forever." 

Is it any good?

This cute, warm animal story works as both a friendship tale and a kid-friendly mirror of the immigration debate. It shows why someone might come to make a home in a new place (because he no longer felt safe in his old home) and how folks can be scared of someone who's different coming into their community. That may sound heavy-handed, but author Jill Twiss has a light touch in the storytelling. And EG Keller's watercolor-and-ink illustrations sweep the reader along, with adorable woodland creatures loaded with personality. Even if a reader misses the allusion to immigration, it's a powerful, engaging tale of empathy and kindness. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Someone New shows what it might feel like to lose your old home and have to look for a new one. Do you know anyone who came from another place to live in your community? 

  • How hard is it to make friends when you're new to a place? Have you seen new kids at your school have a rough time fitting in? What could you do to help them feel accepted? 

  • Why are we sometimes afraid of someone who's different from us? In what ways are kids alike, even if they look different or speak a different language? What games could you play with a kid from a different country? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and immigrant tales

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