Fearful creatures lose their home, but friendly birds guide them to a safe spot in this picture book translated from the German.
Max and Alexa, two black birds, must return a letter to its sender, and the address is an old ship stuck on top of a mountain. Inside are small, timid, orange creatures called “scaredies.” After a great flood receded, other animals left the boat, but the scaredies stayed behind. Now the craft is breaking up; the letter was to the ship’s captain, asking for help in finding a new, safe place. Maybe the birds could help? Alexa smiles and says, “The safest place in the world is with friends…who…can take care of you.” In an entertaining sequence, the scaredies get a balloon ready for takeoff and all fly off together to the birds’ nest, where they discover that “sweet dreams were already waiting for them.” Winterberg (South Asia Highlights & Impressions, 2017, etc.) effectively builds up suspense about what’s inside the ark, lets his characters express their fears, and provides a comforting solution in terms that young children may appreciate. The story is boosted by Hesse’s (Fifteen Feet of Time, 2016, etc.) illustrations, which vividly portray the characters’ expressions of surprise, fear, determination, encouragement, and, finally, relaxation.
Sweet and reassuring but never saccharine thanks to fine comic touches.