Bibliotherapy done right.
In their latest picture-book collaboration, Black and Ohi (I’m Bored, 2012) serve up some good life lessons with the help of a quirky trio of friends: a child with a dress and pigtails; a talking flamingo, who is the titular sad character; and an anthropomorphic potato. As the flamingo expresses its sadness and the other characters, in their own ways, try to provide comfort, the text is delivered entirely in color-coded dialogue, and Ohi’s spare visual aesthetic matches the writing’s restraint. The stolid potato’s lines provide ample comic relief, while the human child exudes empathy. No reason is ever given for the flamingo’s sadness, and neither the child’s many ideas for cheering it up, nor the potato’s one idea (“Dirt!” and “Soil!”) help. The child assures the flamingo that it’s OK to be sad, but finally, a just-this-side-of-mean wisecrack from the potato gets everyone, including the flamingo, laughing. “I still feel a little bit sad, but I also feel a little bit better,” the flamingo says on the penultimate page, and here Ohi depicts the friends in silhouette, which provides a gently melancholy tone for the sweet conclusion.
Happy to see such a well-done feelings book. (Picture book. 3-7)