Can the admiration and touch of a young boy bring a large sculpture to life?
Leo is such a boy. When he visits the museum, he is fascinated with the huge white bear statue named Pompon, which stands proudly and majestically on a pedestal. “For a long time, he studied the arch of Pompon’s legs which were as tall as a gate. / He imagined sliding down Pompon’s back, as if on a sled.” Leo’s examination extends over several deliberate page turns, amplifying his fascination. Leo can’t resist—he stretches out his hand and strokes Pompon’s white cheek, which is “forbidden.” Even though a museum guard scolds Leo, the transformation has begun. Something magical has happened: Pompon flies away (the illustration suggests he becomes a constellation), and his twin brother stands in his place in the museum. It’s the illustrations here that breathe life into this story, which is based on a real sculpture by François Pompon (1855-1933). The oversized images of the bear run off the pages’ edges and convey its size next to Leo. Effective page composition and perspective create an air of magic. Leo, a white boy, sports short pants, white knee socks, and a red muffler (seen on Pompon on the appealing cover). The backmatter offers a brief bio of Pompon along with an author’s note and a timeline.
Charming and quiet, an invitation to children to stop and really regard art. (Picture book. 5-8)