I have favorite books and then I have favorite books. This is a favorite. This is a stick-to-your-ribs kind of book, one that you didn’t even know you were missing and there it is.
There it is.
The story begins on the cover. A car, stuffed to the brim and on the rooftops too. A dog, a man, and a boy inside, driving through the forest to somewhere probably new.
But don’t go too quickly. Slow down here. (It’s scary out there anyway.) Bright endpapers, reddish orange for love and newness. A gold-embossed case cover showing hints of some friends. An owl, waiting in the treetops.
And then we’re back to the put-put-ing car, and the terrible idea.
The new house wasn’t as good as the old one, but Harold was as good a dog as ever. Of course he was.
When things are scary and you have your best friend by your side, you get really good ideas. And you make stuff. That kind of creating is problem-solving and comforting and navigating a world that is unfamiliar.
Peter (and Harold) made Lenny, the Guardian of the Bridge. Lenny, stitched-up safety.
This is what’s always so remarkable to me about kids: their capacity for love, their endless empathy, and their foolhardy belief in things grownups are too big to understand. Even stitched-up-safety needs a friend.
A pile of leaves and some just-right blankets. A friend.
All of them watch the woods and wonder about what’s out there, out past what they can’t see. And then there’s Millie, giving a voice to those wonders.
The art in this book is mostly dark with flickers of bright. The story in this book is mostly dark with flickers of bright. That’s what life is sometimes, right?
Keep an eye out for that owl. Keep an eye out for your friends. Keep an eye on the last illustration of this book, where shiny spots from flashlights make a heart. The dark is still in there, but so are Lenny and Lucy.
Thanks to Macmillan for the two illustrated spreads in this post!