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.