A girl her auntie used to call Cartwheel must flee from a land of war to a place where they can be safe.
She finds life there hard and cold, so she takes refuge in a metaphorical blanket of words and memories from her former life. In the park one day, another little girl smiles at her, then brings her to the swings. More than that, she brings her words, and Cartwheel says them to herself, again and again. The text is exquisitely simple, and the watercolor-and-oil images complement, expand, and illuminate the words with magic and delight. Cartwheel is always brown and orange and gold, as is the blanket she weaves in her imagination of the words and sounds of home. The other girl is blue and green and pink and pale yellow, and she brings new words to her friend in the shape of origami forms. As Cartwheel weaves those words into a second blanket of those colors and shapes, they unfold on the page in beauty. Loneliness, cultural displacement, tentative friendship, and an explosion of sharing and kindness are accessible even to very young readers. The final image of Cartwheel teaching her friend how do a cartwheel tugs at the heart with joy.
An amazingly lovely import from Australia. (Picture book. 4-10)