Carle revisits the timeless topic that he explored with Kazuo Iwamura in the bilingual animal journey Where Are You Going? To See My Friend! (2001); this time, a boy yearns for the girl who moved away.
Readers first see the pair frolicking in small vignettes against a white background. When the girl departs, the protagonist counts to 10 before disappearing into glorious spreads. The hop-along narrative conjures up We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: “The boy landed in a broad meadow. It was a hot day. The grass was dewy, damp and cool…A-h-h-h.” Six additional double-page spreads depict a river, a star-filled sky, a mountain, a rainstorm, a forest and clouds. While familiar collage images dominate some scenes, suggestive abstract paintings comprise others. The forest is a dense world, with layers of liquid green and black on a distant yellow. The river creates a different mood with casual swirls of brightly lit blues and greens. A happy reunion leads to a dress-up marriage; in a slightly disorienting turn-of-the-page segue, Carle provides a photo of his 6-year-old self and the never-seen-again friend who inspired the story. Some may see this as an abrupt change, a jolt of reality after the fantasy ending.
Nevertheless, children will identify with the longing to be with distant loved ones and will revel in the sheer joy of Carle’s forms, colors and textures. (Picture book. 3-6)