Book Review: Hopper and Wilson by Maria van Lieshout

hopper and wilson

Hopper and Wilson by Maria van Lieshout

Hopper and Wilson try to imagine what is on the other side of the big sea.  Wilson, the mouse, thinks there will be lots of lemonade there.  Hopper, the elephant, imagines a staircase to the moon!  So they decide to head out in their boat and see what actually is on the other side of the sea.  They bring their red balloon with them too.  They sail through the day and night, until they are awoken by rain and wind.  Soon the waves are huge and dangerous.  When the sea calms, Wilson is alone in the boat.  As he sails on alone, he asks animals if they have seen Hopper, but neither the turtles, nor the penguins, nor the whale had seen him.  Finally, Wilson sees a bird with a familiar red thread and discovers Hopper afloat on the balloon.  Happily after that they reach the other side of the sea.  And there they find they are home, what luck that home is at both the end and the beginning of the world.

This is a warm and lovely book about friendship and the meaning of home.  It has a great adventure at its center too.  Van Lieshout’s writing is friendly and welcoming.  There are small, sweet touches like the two characters saying farewell to their pet cactus before heading out, the reaction when the friends are reunited, and the moment they discover they are back home again.  This all adds up to a story that has a genuine heart.

A large part of the appeal of the book are the illustrations.  They are done in a mix of watercolors, ink, collage, colored pencil, crayon and acrylics “with some technology to pull it all together.”  They have the appealing liquidity of watercolors, the texture of pencil and crayon, and the deep black edges of ink. 

Highly recommended, this book has a radiant, timeless appeal.  Share it with your small adventurer who will also be happy to come back home at the end.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Philomel Books.

Also reviewed by On My Bookshelf… and You Know, For Kids.

Book Review: Itsy Mitsy Runs Away by Elanna Allen

itsy mitsy runs away

Itsy Mitsy Runs Away by Elanna Allen

Itsy Mitsy is a little girl who hates bedtime.  So much that she decides to run away.  Her Dad reminds her that she will need to pack, starting with a friend to make sure she’s not alone.  Mitsy packs her toy dinosaur, Mister Roar.  Then Dad reminds Mitsy that she will need food for her dinosaur.  So she packs a snack for him.  Dad remarks that Mister Roar is not the only one who likes bananas, in fact they could attract the Bedtime Beasties!  So Mitsy packs Puptart, her ferocious toy dog.  She packs a lamp for light on her way, but can’t get the outlet out of the wall for power.  So she does the only thing she can…She packs the entire house.  Now what to do with her Dad?

This very funny picture book does not take the expected story line at all.  Children will be amazed when Mitzi just keeps on packing, all the way to packing her house.  The sudden change to a book that is fantasy not reality, makes for a great twist that will take readers by complete surprise.  The writing is witty and gracefully written.  It reads aloud beautifully.

Allen’s art is a large part of the success of the book.  Mitzi is depicted in her shiny green alligator/monster suit with orange goggles.  The home around them done in blues and greys fades nicely to the background, but offers details.  Then the fantastic parts of the story are done in wild yellows and greens, adding to the twist of the tale.

A very funny, successful bedtime romp that takes readers on an unexpected journey.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

Also reviewed by 5 Minutes for Books and Through the Looking Glass.