Flowing lines and subtle shifts of hue add visual grace notes to this wordless tale of gifts exchanged between a boy and a fox.
Slipping sinuously through a snowy forest, a fox approaches a village and, after getting a hostile reception from adults, takes refuge in a greenhouse. A boy sees this and later creeps outside to leave a basket in the greenhouse as the fox, suckling four newly born kits, looks on. Later still, mother fox and kits climb into the sleeping boy’s bedroom to leave an astonishing bouquet of larger-than-life flowers before silently departing. In the paint-and–cut-paper illustrations, leafless trees, finely decorated houses and even the flowers in the greenhouse are rendered in wintry blues and grays that make the glow of lights seen through windows seem achingly warm but remote. This contrast also adds a deeper warmth to the identically russet coats of both fox and boy, the only other real touches of color. Each scene is composed as a diorama and photographed, giving the illustrations an uncanny solidity and depth despite their paper-cutout origins.
The oversized flowers invite thinking of this imported episode in symbolic or metaphorical terms…but it needs no analysis to be lovely. (Picture book. 6-8)