A young boy learns a vital lesson about internal strength and resourcefulness in this peaceful children’s story.
Stranded in a rushing river beyond the reach of his parents, Pytelli is visited by nondenominational Angel Children who provide support during this harrowing experience. Teacher, author and illustrator Clemont (I Want to be Wise, 2009, etc.) doesn’t explain how or why Pytelli ended up in the river, but instead she creates a serene fable about how to respond in a difficult situation. Through the Angel Children, Pytelli learns to calm himself and rely on his internal strength until help arrives. Clemont’s wispy, colorful drawings and use of short, simple sentences reinforce the peaceful tone of the book. The tale conveys important childhood lessons without becoming too scary for even the youngest readers. Pytelli’s inner dialogue moves this brief, gentle tale along and delivers the author’s main message: “I didn’t know the water could be so mean.” The teacher in Clemont comes through in her deft handling of the importance of safety; the angels’ message to Pytelli skillfully opens the door to a discussion of self-reliance. Pytelli’s parents remain calm and supportive, and Clemont does not criticize them for putting their son in harm’s way. Rather, a note to readers on the book’s back cover reminds adults to supervise children near any body of water, no matter what its size. The flat, one-dimensional drawings could, at times, have used more detail and definition. The book seems ideal for close, one-on-one readings with a parent or grandparent, who will undoubtedly find much to share with young listeners, while independent readers will easily grasp its essential life lessons.
A loving, serene way to introduce water safety and self-reliance and possibly nurture a belief in angels.