Leave it to Plum!

Matt Phelan

Book - 2022

Every day at the Athensville Zoo the peacocks are allowed to wander freely among the visitors, delighting and guiding kids and grownups alike, and kind, curious Plum is the peacock most proud of their responsibility.

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Subjects
Genres
Animal fiction
Humorous fiction
Detective and mystery fiction
Published
New York : Greenwillow Books, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers [2022]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
114 pages : illustrations, map ; 20 cm
Audience
Ages 8-12
Grades 4-6
ISBN
9780063079168
006307916X
Main Author
Matt Phelan (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Plum the peacock is an exuberant ambassador at the Athensville Zoo, part of the grounds' long tradition of free-roaming peacocks. Plum and the rest of his flock are charged with welcoming and interacting with the human visitors, happily hopping into selfies or helpfully pointing the way to exhibits. But trouble is brewing in the form of disgruntled ningbing Itch, a tiny Australian marsupial who seethes about the unfairness of his own captivity while the foolish birds are free to roam. He conspires to displace the peacocks and take over as a more educational ambassador, and it's up to Plum to sort out the schemes and keep the zoo humming. The story is a hoot, combining the hilarity of chatty zoo animals with more somber undertones of loneliness, though everyone has found their perfect place by the conclusion. Plum is a chipper and generous, if not sweetly oblivious, guide through the proceedings, while the ningbing is delightfully menacing, and cartoonish sketches enhance the lighthearted tone. Young readers will relish this splendid hullabaloo at the zoo. Grades 3-5. Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Booklist Reviews

Plum the peacock is an exuberant ambassador at the Athensville Zoo, part of the grounds' long tradition of free-roaming peacocks. Plum and the rest of his flock are charged with welcoming and interacting with the human visitors, happily hopping into selfies or helpfully pointing the way to exhibits. But trouble is brewing in the form of disgruntled ningbing Itch, a tiny Australian marsupial who seethes about the unfairness of his own captivity while the foolish birds are free to roam. He conspires to displace the peacocks and take over as a more educational ambassador, and it's up to Plum to sort out the schemes and keep the zoo humming. The story is a hoot, combining the hilarity of chatty zoo animals with more somber undertones of loneliness, though everyone has found their perfect place by the conclusion. Plum is a chipper and generous, if not sweetly oblivious, guide through the proceedings, while the ningbing is delightfully menacing, and cartoonish sketches enhance the lighthearted tone. Young readers will relish this splendid hullabaloo at the zoo. Grades 3-5. Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

A bighearted peacock with boundless cheer stars in this lively zoo caper by Phelan (Knights vs. Dinosaurs). Free-range peacocks have long been official guest ambassadors at the Athensville Zoo, seeking to "Mingle! Guide! Delight!" But not everyone is happy about the arrangement, especially not a dour, power-hungry marsupial called Itch, a ningbing with an inflated sense of his own smarts. Fed up with being caged while others roam free, Itch plots to frame the pea-fowl for a manufactured crime spree with the help of some wily, sticky-fingered squirrels. When the plan results in entrapment, a "peppy, purple peacock" named Plum plays detective to gain their release, and in the process, his sleuthing sees him standing up to bullies and growing in social awareness. Luckily, the congenial protagonist is also able to draw on the help of new friends, including a lonely street cat and an introverted new zookeeper, and by book's end, everyone is better off than they were at the start, including the series starter's villain. With occasional grayscale art presented alongside amusingly self-important, cinematically rendered characters, Phelan offers winning animalian antics for chapter book beginners. Ages 8–12. Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (June) Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

A bighearted peacock with boundless cheer stars in this lively zoo caper by Phelan (Knights vs. Dinosaurs). Free-range peacocks have long been official guest ambassadors at the Athensville Zoo, seeking to "Mingle! Guide! Delight!" But not everyone is happy about the arrangement, especially not a dour, power-hungry marsupial called Itch, a ningbing with an inflated sense of his own smarts. Fed up with being caged while others roam free, Itch plots to frame the pea-fowl for a manufactured crime spree with the help of some wily, sticky-fingered squirrels. When the plan results in entrapment, a "peppy, purple peacock" named Plum plays detective to gain their release, and in the process, his sleuthing sees him standing up to bullies and growing in social awareness. Luckily, the congenial protagonist is also able to draw on the help of new friends, including a lonely street cat and an introverted new zookeeper, and by book's end, everyone is better off than they were at the start, including the series starter's villain. With occasional grayscale art presented alongside amusingly self-important, cinematically rendered characters, Phelan offers winning animalian antics for chapter book beginners. Ages 8–12. Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (June) Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 3–7—In this alliterative zoo tale, peppy purple peacock Plum befriends Jeremy, a sad and solitary street kitty, who returns the favor by saving all the peafowl from a frightening fate. It seems that nefarious ningbing Itch, a mouselike marsupial aiming to get the feathered flock ejected, has concocted a scheme to frame the flightless fowl for a series of theft, and then dispatch them via an "accident" on the zoo's closed-off elevated monorail. Fortunately, Plum manages to send a signal that brings his feline ally racing to the rescue in the nick of time. And being grateful, as well as the most beneficent of birds, Plum goes on to hook Jeremy up with lonely new zookeeper Lizzie. Perhaps Phelan can be forgiven for portraying the tails of both peacocks and peahens with the same calligraphic swirls, as the expressive ink-and-wash animal portraits that pack his short chapters of well-paced narrative are done in a fanciful style. Progressing readers weaned on similarly sited anthropomorphic shenanigans like Diane Redfield Massie's Baby beebee bird or Philip Stead's Amos McGee tales will find their suspicions that it really is all happening at the zoo further confirmed. VERDICT A buoyant tale for younger middle grade readers, with a mild dose of danger for spice and an extroverted protagonist on a mission to "mingle, guide, delight."—John Edward Peters Copyright 2022 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A peacock ambassador for the Athensville Zoo, Plum must save the day when a very small marsupial with a big ego tries to escape and take over the zoo. 40,000 first printing. Simultaneous eBook. Illustrations.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Every day at the Athensville Zoo the peacocks are allowed to wander freely among the visitors, delighting and guiding kids and grownups alike, and kind, curious Plum is the peacock most proud of their responsibility.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

When a small mammal with an oversized ego tries to take over the zoo, just leave it to the big-hearted peacock Plum to save the day! From award-winning author Matt Phelan, the creator of Knights vs. Dinosaurs and its two sequels, Leave It to Plum! is a highly illustrated young middle grade novel perfect for reluctant readers and animal lovers everywhere.Young Plum is one of the peacock ambassadors for the Athensville Zoo. Every day the peacocks are allowed to wander freely among the zoo’s visitors, delighting and guiding kids and grown-ups alike. The peacocks are very proud of their responsibility; none so much as kind, curious Plum.But Itch the ningbing—a type of very small marsupial—doesn’t understand why those birdbrains should get so much freedom while he’s all cooped up. So he plots and plots, sure that he will escape and become the zoo ambassador!With short chapters and energetic black-and-white illustrations, award-winning author Matt Phelan’s Leave It to Plum! is a highly illustrated young middle grade novel full of warmth and humor. The first hilarious story in a duology about a young peacock with a big heart, a small mammal with a big ego, and the busy zoo they both live in as a must-have for fans of the Princess in Black and Mercy Watson series.