“ ‘Where are you?’ a voice called. ‘Hurry up, we have to go!’ But Hannah wasn’t there, and no one could find her.”
Those are the sole words printed on the opening, double-page spread. It depicts Hannah’s bedroom, in which readers may spot, among other items, binoculars, art supplies, and a stuffed creature resembling one of Maurice Sendak’s wild things. On the next page, the protagonist is shown in a park, wearing a coonskin cap, aiming a slingshot at a squirrel, and musing about living there instead of heeding the voice that was rushing her. As the pages progress, Hannah does live there for an indeterminate amount of time, her sole companion the Odd Furry Creature, who is apparently mute. The Odd Furry Creature (resembling the toy in Hannah’s bedroom) is not the only homage to Where the Wild Things Are; the fanciful art has the same muted palette and a similar, appealing style. Moreover, the text offers, instead of a plot, a dreamlike dive into Hannah’s psyche. Both art and text deftly illustrate a common, contradictory urge to escape the company of humans while also retaining its safety. The companions live—undetected—in a vine-enclosed space large enough for their feathery capes, leafy beds, and small fire for roasting pigeons on. When Hannah decides to return to those who miss her, the final pages leave readers uncertain about what—if anything—has actually happened. Hannah presents white; humans seen in the background are diverse.
From Italy, a beautiful, charming bedtime story for readers comfortable with ambiguity. (Picture book. 4-7)