The second book in the Tales from the Hidden Valley picture-book series, translated from Spanish, sets the storybook tone by repeating its predecessor’s lead-in paragraph, then moves into its winter-setting story.
Maximilian Cold, “child of the richest…coldest family in town” wants to be a musician, so his horrified family disowns him. Then “The Band” he joins, disliking his musical improvisations, fires him. He hops a train, and the other musical hobos literally throw him out. Sheltering in a cave, he finds the floor giving way underneath him, and he slides amid “fossils and precious stones” to another world—the world Yula and the other anthropomorphic animals of The Artists (2018) inhabit. Porta’s whimsy shines as his impeccable design and fanciful illustrations are aided and abetted by the droll text. The tiny, onion-headed magical ballerina met previously (now delightfully called “Onion-head”) finds the shivering Maxi and dresses him in so many layers of winter clothes that he looks like a big “Thing.” The Thing inadvertently scares Yula (who was walking to Sara’s), and she faints. Concerned, Maxi carries her to a hollow tree. A watching raven becomes alarmed and flies off to tell Sara, who notifies her quirky friends, and they come up with a madcap scheme to drive Maxi away. All ends well, though, presented so matter-of-factly that readers will have no concerns that Maxi and the animals won’t become great friends. Maxi, the only human in the Hidden Valley, presents white.
Delightful. (Picture book. 3-8)