Mip and Pip, two woodland fairies of drastically different dispositions, hold a contest to see which of them can build “the best tree house by sundown.”
The sprites’ physical and temperamental differences propel this familiar grasshopper-ant–style story. Mip sings loudly, has a flamboyant, flouncy mushroom cap on her pate, and spirits quickly about the forest looking for action. Pip reads architecture books quietly by himself, has an elongated green bud extending elegantly from his head, and deliberately plans. Yet they’re unquestionably best friends. Thought clouds show just how differently the friends think: Mip dreams up a colorful treehouse towering with turrets and flapping flags, while Pip pictures cornices and cupolas sketched out meticulously under typeset headers. When Mip’s overreaching, slapdash treehouse predictably teeters and falls, a timeless moral shines through the wreckage: Thoughtful planning and diligence pay off. Lesser stories stop here, but these fairies persevere together, connecting the remains of Mip’s house with Pip’s to make an astounding treehouse that combines both their visions. Young readers glean that antithetical personalities can work beautifully together and that contrapuntal viewpoints can produce an amazing synthesis. MacKay’s backlit dioramas, suffused with watery colors, glow gauzily. Moss greens and dawn pinks conjure the light-skinned fairies’ forest, a place that feels both familiar and faraway.
Sweetly offers essential, timely lessons about aligning with those different from oneself. (Picture book. 4-8)