Welcome to the planet Gon Gon, where the Smon Smon “hangs its last ron ron next to its won won on a lon lon and floats away in a ton ton.”
Ruddy pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations help disoriented readers make sense of these words and this woodsy world, a place looming with what resembles knobby bark, nutshells, mushrooms, thistles, slender vines, and berries. Matryoshka-looking beings named Smon Smons and the even smaller Klon Klons live and work gathering fruit in this dusky, autumnal place. Cross-referencing words and pictures, readers puzzle out meanings with pleasure: ron ron = a fruit or vegetable; won won = a bed made of soft deciduous fiber; lon lon = a rope; ton ton = a concave vessel, studded and bumpy on the outside, smooth on the inside. Vocabulary builds with each page turn, and readers grow more comfortable with this punchy single-syllabic alien lexicon, one perfect for a disarming read-aloud. The Smon Smon remains sweetly elusive as it perambulates and cheerily gathers food. Rosy-cheeked, its arched brows and nose tip painted black, the Smon Smon extends its neck impressive lengths when needed. Its gender remains ambiguous throughout, even when the Smon Smon finally reaches its resting place and another who seems its mate. The Smon Smons smile inscrutably, delightfully difficult to discern or affix to familiar paradigms.
Weird, wonderful, and proof that journeying to places of uncertainty and unfamiliarity can feel extraordinarily exciting. (Picture book. 6-10)