After a father and son become separated while hunting in a snowstorm, forest animals aid the boy.
The lost lad sleeps in a sheltering cave below animal constellations, his red-and-white polka-dot scarf his pillow. Waking in a shaft of light, he’s regarded by an interspecies crowd that includes a bear, an owl, a badger, a deer, foxes, rabbits, and more. Panel close-ups amusingly register their mutual surprise. The bear and boy strike a bond: The boy shares a candy, and they drink from a waterfall. In scenes recalling Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman, dining and dancing ensue. Boy and bear add to cave paintings that themselves evoke those at Lascaux. When the child’s father-son depiction evinces longing, the boy gets a predawn ride on the bear’s back, to a reunion with his searching father. Sequential illustrations show the boy facilitating gratitude rather than violence toward the bear. As other animals emerge from the forest, a raccoon carrying the boy’s left-behind scarf, early yellow flowers bloom along the home’s fence. Johnson’s wordless pictures capably narrate, foretell, and embellish the story. The blizzard’s feathery flakes include silhouettes of the animals encountered later. The cozy home’s family photos show an absent woman, her red-and-white top echoed in the boy’s scarf, socks, a chair pillow, and the final spread’s springtime butterfly. Mother, father, and child all present white.
A dreamy visual narrative to brighten winter evenings. (Picture book. 4-7)