Brimsby, a hat maker, dearly misses his badger friend, who sailed away to become a sea captain.
Brimsby (a proper name for a hatter!) could be any number of animals, really, with his black stubby nose, nubby ears, pea-soup–colored body and bowler hat. A bear? A mole? Inset scenes, arresting compositional choices and conversation bubbles direct eyes across pages of computer-generated artwork. While flat, these illustrations carry powerful poignancy. The badger relays his seafaring dreams to Brimsby as ships, pirates, telescopes and dragons hover over their heads, encapsulated in a row of neat ovals. Twelve small, sequential studies reveal Brimsby’s mounting loneliness with painful clarity. He sits at his work table, by the window, sewing different hats on different days in different seasons, in boxy isolation—a lonely portrait that changes little, repeating again and again across a double-page spread. Readers may sniffle before turning the page to find him trudging across a sweeping snowscape, waist-high in a drift. He meets some cold birds shoveling snow out of their nests and thinks of the perfect solution: hat bird houses! Brimsby’s industry and empathy find him a flock of thankful friends.
Sophisticated storytelling, both through words and images, beautifully describes the significance of friendship and what it feels like to miss, keep, love and make a friend. (Picture book. 2-6)