A bird chick goes missing, which offers an opportunity to discuss the potential loss of other creatures.
Polar bear Milk, the postman of the northern forest, receives a plea—in the form of a postcard—from the red-crowned cranes. They have lost their chick and are enlisting Milk’s help, as Milk sees everyone while he makes his rounds. Using heavy black outlines for his characters, Kijima works in a rich array of habitats, evoking them with slashes of color and whispering swipes of clouds. In double-page spreads that capture the different times of day, Milk meets up with the sika deer, the Siberian chipmunk, the Blakiston’s fish owl, and other denizens of the far north. Though it goes unspoken, global warming imperils all of these animals, and Milk’s repetitive plea to his friends takes on a drumbeat of impending danger for them. Meanwhile, the chick is still missing as the seasons pass. With all the naming of the creatures of the northern forest, the story has curiously pushed the poor little chick somewhat into the background even though he is brought up each page. Finally, there is a joyous reunion, though the atmosphere of missing children lays a fog over the few final pages leading to the chick’s discovery.
Kijima’s combination of thick lines and delicate use of color is a plus, but it takes some work to prize out the themes of missing children and climate change. (Picture book. 4-8)