Author and artist Dunn turns an everyday object—a yellow umbrella—into a touching tale about the joy of giving selflessly and how small acts of compassion can transcend cultural boundaries.
Illustrated with charming simplicity, this unusual “city fable” begins with Dunn’s early memories of the real people who inspired his flowering curiosity. One of them was Lina, a little girl who wrote stories and treasured beautiful things and, as the fable begins, is the first owner of the Yellow Umbrella. He—the Yellow Umbrella—had “forgotten the rain because he had been asleep so long,” until one day he expands “into a great, flower-like circle” to protect Lina with his outstretched “arms.” Curious about the world and his purpose in it, the Yellow Umbrella talks with other worldly umbrellas stored in the hall in a Chinese Vase, who “dreams all day of the past, when she lived far away in a big house hung with silks.” After the wise Hall Mirror accurately predicts that a journey of discovery awaits the Yellow Umbrella, he’s then lost on a bus and found by Mr. Klein, a lonely watchmaker. One rainy day in the park, Mr. Klein kindly gives the umbrella to “the Lady with the Rose Hat.” And the Yellow Umbrella’s adventures continue: “a Lady from Persia" adopts the umbrella; then he finds his way to a sick young boy, who reads and sleeps under the Yellow Umbrella’s comforting canopy. The frail boy dreams that the umbrella shaded him “as he rode on his golden elephant like a Boy-King from long ago.” Throughout this gentle fairy tale, the author gives young readers a compassionate glimpse into each of the lives touched by the humble yellow traveler. When a gust of wind carries the Yellow Umbrella up into the starry night sky, he sees the city for its vastness—but also for the men, women and children whose lives he helped make better. Among the shooting stars shines the Yellow Umbrella’s remarkably rare message—aspire to kindness in the service of others.
The bighearted Yellow Umbrella discovers unexpected poignancy at a depth deeper than that of most children’s books.