A surprise visitor brightens up the life of the solitary man who lives in the old dark house.
Elderly Niles has creaky bones and failing eyesight. No wonder he lives in a dim, creaky house. All his children have grown up and moved away. His wife, Sara, has died but comes to him in dreams of red poppies and fresh, open fields. At night, he roams the rooms of the darkened house, haunted by memories. One night, he sees a young boy standing just outside, holding a flowerpot. The boy explains that he lives next door and is going on holiday; can Niles tend his flower while he’s away? By the time Niles answers, the boy has gone. He’s left holding the pot, which holds no flower, only dirt. The next morning, a tiny fragile leaf is peeping out from the dirt. Niles decides it’s time to freshen the house, opening windows to the warm, fragrant air. Niles’ long-lost cat, Johan Sebastian, appears and, after a day of cleaning, curls up at his feet. The next day, the little boy returns and takes Niles outside into the beautiful garden. Widmark’s melancholy story about loneliness gains atmosphere and, ultimately, lift from Dziubak’s beautiful illustrations, hand-drawn using colored pencils. Children will pore over the details and delight as Niles banishes murky darkness with light. Niles, his family, and the boy all present white in this Swedish import by way of Scotland.
Lovely. (Picture book. 5-8)