In this whimsical debut picture book translated from the German, Hesse and Winterberg implore young and adult readers alike to embrace what they love to do.
The authors tackle the theme of what people can do when they’re true to themselves. Playing to this idea, they show characters forgoing mundane routines and defying expectations. For instance, while stuck in traffic, a weather-forecasting frog on his way to a TV studio “was about to honk his horn” when he saw the sun rising in his rearview mirror. “He frowned and thought to himself…I’ve been doing this for so long now that I can’t even recall the last time that I actually felt and enjoyed the weather.” Breaking from his routine, he climbs to the highest rooftop of a nearby building to bask in the sun. Meanwhile, an Italian violin famous throughout the land decides to perform spontaneously while standing on top of her limousine, dazzling her fellow commuters sitting in traffic. Close by, two penguins on their way to work in the city’s casino spot a large spider knitting outside her window and implore her to make them a hammock, “[s]o we can put it up over the street and sit in it! And listen to the violin play and enjoy the sun.” In the end, the story shows how small acts of joy can inspire others. Throughout, Hesse’s mixed-media illustrations will delight both children and adult readers; her picture of an overweight businessman sporting a tie emblazoned with Chinese text and an older woman wearing “recycled” clothes, for example, provides priceless commentary on how the rich and elderly are valued in today’s global economy. Readers will also appreciate the fantastic illustrations of card-playing penguins and a firefighting gargoyle, despite the muted earth tones used throughout. Although the English translation is stilted at times, readers will still find it easy to appreciate the universal themes in this clever picture book.
A charming carpe diem tale for readers of all ages.