A dedicated search for the light, even in the darkest of times, leads one character back home.
A child appears, seemingly nascent with the light, nude and frolicking. Donning a yellow rain hat, blue coat, and red galoshes (reminiscent of Paddington Bear), the industrious child sets out with a wheelbarrow full of assorted tools to chase the sun across village streets, pastures, and hills. Together with a goose and cat companions, the child tries to catch the sun’s bright rays. Dropping items as they progress, they reach the shore with only a small butterfly net just as the sun sinks below the watery horizon. Doggedly carrying on, the child briefly swims naked with the goose under the nighttime waves before they wash back to shore. A starry elephant appears with a lantern in its trunk, carrying the child back home as the sun rises. McDonnell’s minimalist text, with sentences stretched over several pages, conveys only the most general information, developing an atmospheric tale with layered meanings. One can metaphorically read an emotional journey of a sad, “dark” spot in life, emerging into “light,” happy times. Regardless, “hope” carries readers into a new dawn in the circular theme. Vast but simply designed landscapes dominate the wide pages with thick brush strokes and sweeping colors. The dark scenes are so saturated that readers may have to squint to make both them and the text out, a narratively appropriate feature. Conversely, the light scenes burst off the pages.
Delicately crafted, impressionistic hope. (Picture book. 3-7)