Oskarsson explores perspective and the slippery boundary between the real and the imagined in this existential play date.
A skinny, comically big-nosed rat counts, her eyes covered. It’s hide-and-seek, and the game is on! But no Wilbert can be found. Instead, the rat encounters a wisecracking crocodile (with triangular teeth protruding all along its jawline) who offers to help. Together they search until two gray ears can be seen peeking above a tree. With each spread more of Wilbert appears, until a gigantic hippo, taller than the trees, is revealed. Yet the crocodile still can’t see Wilbert. Despite this, the three continue their game, and the crocodile never finds Wilbert. Readers may question each character’s existence, whose mind they spring from, and how the world is seen through each character’s eyes. A simple cartoon style highlights distinctive animal and plant designs. Single-pane illustrations, done in a pale palette, appear on recto showing the scale of the rodent to other objects, while small vignettes on verso seem to depict the characters with a fly swatter, chasing an erratically buzzing fly. This device is perhaps an attempt to stimulate conversation, but it may result in confusion. Still, there’s no question that children and caregivers will find themselves talking about it.
First published in the Faroe Islands in 2016, this is a distinctly different approach to storytelling. (Picture book. 4-8)