The new arrival in the neighborhood is Sam the homeless hedgehog, who has set off, Dick Whittington–style, with a bundle on a stick, to make his place in the world.
He soon finds the perfect home inside a hollow tree in a forest, with plenty of fruit to eat and cozy surroundings, but there’s only one drawback: He’s lonely. He searches and searches but can’t find any friends. He writes a lot of notes that he pins to trees with his broken quills. The animals find them and welcome him into their fold with open paws. A tired plot and somewhat clumsy narrative are alleviated by Nastanlieva’s charming colored-pencil–and-watercolor illustrations, which use a muted palette of browns and olives to give a traditional feel. Visual variety is added by alternating the color spreads with striking monochromatic illustrations to convey a storm and nighttime. Curious readers might wonder how Sam manages to write the notes, since the artwork gives no clue. This is just a quibble, though, as the illustrations have enough liveliness to keep children engaged and reveal to them what Sam misses for most of the story: The seemingly deserted woodland is full of potential friends. The animals’ speech is integrated into the illustrations, making a game of hide-and-seek for readers.
Charming, if not refreshingly original. (Picture book. 2-5)