A Tale of Two Beasts by Fiona Roberton
Released March 1, 2015
First we hear the story from one point of view, then the other. A little girl tells of walking in the woods and seeing a little beast in the forest. He was stuck in the tree and very sad, so she rescued him and took him home with her. There she bathed him, dressed him in a hat and sweater, gave him nuts to eat and built him a house out of a cardboard box. She even walked him in a leash to give him exercise. But in the end, he escaped out of the window. Alone in her bed, she couldn’t sleep and then the beast returned to get his hat so they headed off into the woods together. But she couldn’t stop wondering about why he came back. The second half of the book is told from the little animal’s point of view and it’s a very different perspective. But in the end, the two of them found a connection despite their different ways of seeing what happened.
Roberton could have kept this book solely about perspectives and had it be full-on humor, but instead she manages to imbue the book with a real heart. The connection between the two “beasts” is slow to come, with the final moment of real understanding being so freeing for both of them as they in turn realize that the other one is not quite as bad as they had thought. Using similar language for both stories in that moment really shows their connection, particularly because otherwise their perspectives had been so very different.
Roberton uses her art to frame the story, showing the same exact story not only verbally from different perspectives but also vividly in the images as different from one another. One moment that stands out is the cardboard box home that she builds the creature, which he detests. The illustrations show her pleasure at it and then in turn his trapped feeling of being in the box with nothing to do. And don’t miss their final dash together into the woods and then their clothing hanging on tree branches side-by-side. Freedom!
Cleverly crafted and told, this picture book explores points of view and how connections are possible even with different beasts. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from online copy from Kane Miller.