"A charming carpe diem tale for readers of all ages."– Kirkus Reviews
Fearful creatures lose their home, but friendly birds guide them to a safe spot in this picture book translated from the German.
Max and Alexa, two black birds, must return a letter to its sender, and the address is an old ship stuck on top of a mountain. Inside are small, timid, orange creatures called “scaredies.” After a great flood receded, other animals left the boat, but the scaredies stayed behind. Now the craft is breaking up; the letter was to the ship’s captain, asking for help in finding a new, safe place. Maybe the birds could help? Alexa smiles and says, “The safest place in the world is with friends…who…can take care of you.” In an entertaining sequence, the scaredies get a balloon ready for takeoff and all fly off together to the birds’ nest, where they discover that “sweet dreams were already waiting for them.” Winterberg (South Asia Highlights & Impressions, 2017, etc.) effectively builds up suspense about what’s inside the ark, lets his characters express their fears, and provides a comforting solution in terms that young children may appreciate. The story is boosted by Hesse’s (Fifteen Feet of Time, 2016, etc.) illustrations, which vividly portray the characters’ expressions of surprise, fear, determination, encouragement, and, finally, relaxation.
Sweet and reassuring but never saccharine thanks to fine comic touches.
A picture book tells children that no matter what your size, you are perfect the way you are.
In Winterberg’s (Fifteen Feet of Time, 2013) book, Tamia wants to figure out if she is small or not. In a simple question-and-answer format, she asks various creatures about her size. A big creature with yellow fur says: “Small? You? You are smaller than small! You are teeny-weeny!” Tamia puts her question to others, including a crescent moon, who answers, “Tiny? You? You are microscopic!" About halfway through the story, she begins to ask a different question: “Am I big?” Scaling down from the large creatures she approached at first, Tamia turns to a turtle, a flower, a ladybug and a small green worm. The worm, sticking out of an apple, tells Tamia, “You are gigantic!” In a magnificent realization, Tamia sees that size is relative. “I’ve got it!” Tamia says, “I’m everything, and if I’m everything, I’m also: just right!” On their own, children may find it a bit difficult to read Winterberg’s words, which often appear on top of illustrations and can be hard to discern, but adults should have no trouble reading the story to them. Wichmann’s detailed and dreamlike illustrations complement the simple messages of the book: Accept yourself as you are, no matter what your size, and you don’t have to compare yourself to others in order to be special. In addition to Tamia’s curly hair and her zany red hat, each page has details children may want to study. On one page, these include an image of a green turtle floating in a pond alongside a duck wearing water wings. Some of the pictures are so fanciful they can be a challenge to decipher, but that may add to their appeal for children who enjoy lingering over pages full of magical creatures and whimsical details.
A small girl learns to accept herself as she is in a story told in simple and engaging words and imaginative pictures.
In this whimsical debut picture book translated from the German, Hesse and Winterberg implore young and adult readers alike to embrace what they love to do.
The authors tackle the theme of what people can do when they’re true to themselves. Playing to this idea, they show characters forgoing mundane routines and defying expectations. For instance, while stuck in traffic, a weather-forecasting frog on his way to a TV studio “was about to honk his horn” when he saw the sun rising in his rearview mirror. “He frowned and thought to himself…I’ve been doing this for so long now that I can’t even recall the last time that I actually felt and enjoyed the weather.” Breaking from his routine, he climbs to the highest rooftop of a nearby building to bask in the sun. Meanwhile, an Italian violin famous throughout the land decides to perform spontaneously while standing on top of her limousine, dazzling her fellow commuters sitting in traffic. Close by, two penguins on their way to work in the city’s casino spot a large spider knitting outside her window and implore her to make them a hammock, “[s]o we can put it up over the street and sit in it! And listen to the violin play and enjoy the sun.” In the end, the story shows how small acts of joy can inspire others. Throughout, Hesse’s mixed-media illustrations will delight both children and adult readers; her picture of an overweight businessman sporting a tie emblazoned with Chinese text and an older woman wearing “recycled” clothes, for example, provides priceless commentary on how the rich and elderly are valued in today’s global economy. Readers will also appreciate the fantastic illustrations of card-playing penguins and a firefighting gargoyle, despite the muted earth tones used throughout. Although the English translation is stilted at times, readers will still find it easy to appreciate the universal themes in this clever picture book.
A charming carpe diem tale for readers of all ages.