Reading, friends, and fertile imagination combine in this neighborhood follow-up to Colette’s Lost Pet (2017).
Young Albert is looking through Mile End, an urban row-house neighborhood in Montreal, for a quiet place to read a book. In the alley, Albert finds a discarded painting of an ocean sunset and pulls up a chair in front of it for quiet reading and contemplation. The page turn gives way to a wordless double-page spread of Albert sitting in a chaise on the beach, and readers will understand that Albert has entered the ocean-sunset picture via imagination. Two friends arrive in the alley to repot a plant, and in Albert’s imaginative world they also enter the beach scene, building a sand castle. As other friends arrive, they, too, enter the beach scene, until it becomes crowded and noisy. Finally Albert yells in frustration, “That’s it! QUIET!!” This pale, blue-green–and-orange beach scene is now followed by an illustration showing Albert’s friends, wearing reproachful expressions, slinking away down the black-and-white alley. They return, though, with books of their own—and a surprise response to Albert’s abashed apology. Author/illustrator Arsenault does a terrific job directing the story’s pace and ambiance using wordless spot and double-page–spread illustrations interspersed with others containing dialogue bubbles and hand-lettered sound effects. Albert presents white, and his friends are diverse.
This accessible story will validate readers who relish their quiet time as well as their friends. (Picture book. 4-7)