Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hopper and Wilson

Written & illustrated by Maria van Lieshout
Philomel, 2011
 $16.99, ages 3-7, 40 pages

Two stuffed pals set sail in a paper hat to see what's at the end of the world and discover that the best place of all isn't as far as they thought.

As Wilson and Hopper wave goodbye to their potted cactus on the edge of a vast ocean, the wind gently tugs at Hopper's red balloon and anything seems possible.

Wilson, a yellow mouse, imagines they'll find a staircase to the moon while Hopper, a blue elephant, pictures a place with lots of lemonade.

That night Wilson and Hopper fall asleep on the brim of the newspaper-folded boat under a sky of stars without a cloud in sight.

But as morning comes, rain pelts down and the sea grows choppy. Suddenly their boat begins to rise under a giant wave and in a frightening moment, envelops them.

When at last storm finally settles, Wilson discovers he's alone in the boat. He circles the crown of the hat and climbs to its tip and scours the water, but Hopper is nowhere to be found.

Frightened and lonely, he calls out to every sea creature he sees for signs of Hopper. But not one of the turtles or penguins, or the whale seems to have seen his big-eared friend.

Nearly out of hope, Wilson looks up in the sky and sees a bird with a red string in its beak flying into a bank of fog. Could this lead him to Hopper and the treasures they're looking for?

Lieshout (Bloom!, Splash! and Peep!) introduces an adorable twosome -- a mouse with a pushpin nose and an elephant with smiling eyes -- who discover that what they want most may be closer than they thought.

Wobbly ink outlines and swaths of watercolor that seep out of the lines give this gem a sweet childlike feel as do big ink stitches that run up the toys' tummies, heads and backs.

Here's a pair we hope to see again (but maybe in a wooden hat instead?)

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