A lonely child’s dream of a joyous party with animal friends becomes a bridge to friendship with other children.
Miyares’ lovely gouache-and-pencil compositions set the scene: In the dining hall of an imposing boarding school, a sad child sits apart. In their dorm room, beside a shadowy row of sleeping kids, the wakeful child’s face is illuminated by moonlight. Nearby, a pet turtle seems about to escape its fishbowl terrarium. The dream begins with a formal invitation—sealing wax and all—propped against the now-empty fishbowl. As a glorious full moon beckons, the child, suddenly clothed in red-flannel shirt and jeans and wearing a backpack, escapes out the window to a waiting bike and helmet. The journey through woods to sea is lushly depicted, and the turtle, now huge, ferries the child to a cave full of welcoming animals. Fox, goose, hare, bear, and owl treat the child to tea, sweets, and music: Each plays an instrument as turtle claps and the child dances. “A night out ends, / as a new day breaks.” After being carried back ashore, the child bikes back to school and clambers into bed. A final spread shows the child in pajamas, small-again turtle in hand, regaling five roommates; the final endpapers show them eating together. The protagonist has pale skin and straight, black hair in a cropped cut, and their classmates display a variety of skin tones and hair textures.
A luminous allegory that celebrates the necessity of connection. (Picture book. 4-7)