A young boy receives a chair as a birthday present and after initial disappointment turns the gift to his advantage.
For his birthday, Pablo receives a chair as a gift: “So you’ll sit still for once!” All the humans in the illustrations, including Pablo, are shown as the color of the white of the paper (with the exception of one blue person in a crowd scene that also includes a bird, a bear, and a robot). Pablo is first “flabbergasted” by the gift, then angry—until he begins to explore its possibilities. He leaves home with the chair on his back and walks across countries, performing an acrobatic routine on his chair. He becomes famous but “remain[s] humble and…could still appreciate the sound of a dragonfly and the cool wind in his hair.” After a few years, he puts the chair on his back again and begins the walk home. While cleverly written, Perret’s story lacks the zing that tension could provide. Pablo has no obstacles to surmount: everyone loves his act, he remains humble and unaffected, and when he goes home, he is welcomed back. The book’s design features double-page spreads with text on one or both pages. Perret’s distinctive minimalist illustrations—black outlines and blocks of color—make superb use of the negative space of the white paper.
This classic home-away-home arc is completely tension-free, but its whimsy may carry readers through. (Picture book. 3-7)