We Forgot Brock! by Carter Goodrich (InfoSoup)
Phillip’s best friend is Brock, the problem is that no one else can see Brock except Phillip. The two of them spend all of their time together and Phillip’s parents are supportive, waiting for Brock to move his motorcycle out of the way, giving him imaginary seconds at dinner. One day, the family heads to the Big Fair where Brock wants to ride the Brain Shaker. Phillip and Brock ride a lot of rides together and eventually Phillips falls asleep. Brock though still wants to ride the Brain Shaker, so he is left behind at the fair. When Phillips wakes up in the car, he discovers that they have left Brock behind! Brock is discovered by a little girl who has her own friend, Princess Sparkle Dust. She invites Brock to come home with them. But Brock misses Phillip and Phillip continues to search for Brock. Good friends are hard to find!
Goodrich is the author of the Zorro series of picture books and brings the same humor and charm to this new book. The subject of imaginary friends has been a popular one recently. This picture book shows a child not ready to leave their imaginary friend behind yet, which makes it much less of an issue book and much more cheerful in general.
The illustrations clearly keep the imaginary from reality, with Brock and Princess Sparkle Dust done in child-like crayon drawings that have a single color and a white background. Meanwhile the other art is more sophisticated and colorful. This lets the imaginary characters pop against reality, somehow giving them even more presence rather than less.
A strong and warm book about imaginary friends and friendship in general. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.
A Nearer Moon by Melanie Crowder (InfoSoup)
Luna lives in a swamp that was formed when a dam formed in the river by fallen trees. She lives with her mother, grandmother and little sister Willow in a village on stilts above the swamp water. Everyone in the village knows not to drink the swamp water, particularly the water near the slick. But when Luna has Willow out on her boat with her, water accidentally gets into her mouth. The water was helped by a creature who lives deep in the muck of the swamp. Now Willow only has a few weeks to live, since everyone exposed to the water dies at the exact same time after drinking it. Luna is desperate to find a way to save her sister, even going so far as to offer herself to the creature under the water. But that creature too has her own story that is wrapped around Luna and Willow’s. It too is a story of sisters and also a loss so deep that it poisons. In her desperation can Luna find a way to save her sister?
Crowder writes so beautifully. The setting of the swamp comes alive with her words, the creatures of the swamp, the trees, the colors, the smells and the subtle beauty. She takes what could have been a desolate poison swamp and instead wraps it in beauty and wonder. The magic that permeates the story is deep and dark, and keeps the humans trapped in the swamp with it. It’s lovely to see a fantasy book use magic in a way that is twisted and corrupted and yet entirely organic and realistic too.
The parallel stories of the two sets of sisters is delicately balanced. There is the main story of Luna and Willow, two human sisters who adore one another and the place they live. Then there are the water sprite sisters, Perdy and Gia. The sprites are trying to leave this world and build a door to another place that doesn’t have humans in it. Gia spends her time near the door, waiting for it to be complete while Perdy explores far and wide. But disaster happens once the door is completed and Gia is unable to call Perdy home fast enough.
Lushly written and filled with details that bring the swamp to life, this novel is a magnificent fantasy read. Appropriate for ages 9-12.
Reviewed from library copy.