A lonely child and a bison become soul mates in this affecting French fantasy.
A little girl is walking with her mother the first time she encounters the creature. After a few days, she gets close enough to touch him—and, eventually, to feed him. Wisniewski’s narrative, voiced in the first person by the protagonist, is spare, stating the essentials. Sometimes it is only a sentence or two on an otherwise blank page, a choice that draws attention to the exquisite charcoal-and-ink compositions, arranged in changing page designs. The shaggy softness of the bulky creature is matched by the white girl’s appearance, her wooly layers underscoring their simpatico relationship. They sometimes blend together. A friendship is established, with the bison reappearing each winter. The first time he returns, strokes of blue watercolor animate the snowy woodland scene, the bison spotlighted in a clearing. A cozy spread shows the two sipping hot chocolate indoors while the girl tells stories: “Sometimes he wouldn’t say anything. / I loved his silence.” Eventually both characters’ hair turns white. The last time they are together, she wonders if he misses his mother as much as she misses hers. Searching for him in vain the next winter under a blue, starlit sky, she finally realizes: “He was always with me.” Wisniewski’s words and images capture the deep satisfaction of an interspecies bond.
Perfect for animal lovers and old souls who harbor a touch of melancholy. (Picture book. 5-8)