Cheerful green alligator Norris attempts to befriend Elba, a pink hippo burdened by a mysterious black block.
Norris may initially appear to be a suspiciously friendly predator, but, as evidenced by the cloud of butterflies that accompanies him everywhere, he is genuinely considerate. He finds Elba sitting on her block in the park and invites her on a picnic, then continues to check in with her after she declines. Elba is surprised when Norris joins her in sitting on her block, telling her he feels “something [sad] in there” and that “it wants to come out.” “Maybe tomorrow,” he says after they sit in silence each day. With Norris’ patient encouragement—observe his hopeful smile as they drink tea in the rain!—Elba soon agrees to visit the ocean with him, though she doubts she can make it that far with her block: “It’s too heavy….Right?” she asks, which he does not deny, instead responding, “My butterflies and I will help you.” As they slowly walk to the ocean, Elba finally opens up to Norris about the deep sadness her block represents. His empathetic response and its surprising result demonstrate the power of patience, listening, and simply showing up when loved ones are navigating difficult emotions. Ramírez’s illustrations, done in a combination of traditional and digital media, utilize bright, textured colors, simple rounded shapes, and subtle yet eloquent facial expressions to sweetly emphasize the characters’ emotional journey.
A poignant exploration of depression, grief, and friendship. (Picture book. 3-8)