A stony, lonely, mountain-dwelling Creature longs for companionship.
Prime’s translation conveys Stark’s fey tale to English-speaking readers with understated whimsy. Immured in her cave during the day to escape the harmful rays of the sun, the Creature thinks the world outside is as gray as her cave. She “dreams of the moon and of having someone small to sing to and care for.” At night, she emerges. She tries to swim to the moon, but it “shatter[s] into a thousand gleams.” She sings, “GRRR,” and blows spit bubbles as she looks up at it. The Creature is intemperate in her loneliness, and young readers will understand how her grumpiness leads her to pound the walls. Then a stray sun spark flies into her cave and becomes, for a single day, the Creature’s new Little Small. They aren’t really compatible at all, but the Creature does her best to understand the spark, who shows her the world’s colors and describes its landscapes and inhabitants. While their relationship is as evanescent as, well, a spark, it is nevertheless transformative for both; the Creature can now see colors, and the tiny spark sings a farewell “GRR” as it travels back to the Sun, lofted up in a spit bubble. Bondestam’s collage illustrations depict the Creature as a gray, pear-shaped figure with pointy teeth that somehow don’t seem scary at all.
Generously open to young readers’ interpretations, this Swedish import lingers. (Picture book. 4-8)