Cherry Blossom and Paper Planes

Floris. Jan. 2020. 48p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781782505617.
K-Gr 3–This Dutch import depicts two young friends who live in a rural village surrounded by cherry orchards. Their relationship is upended by Adin’s family’s move to the city. Separated and lonely, they each plant cherry seeds to lead the way to the other, and a touch of magical realism in the resulting cherry blossoms creates a beautiful path for their friendship. The artwork, hand-drawn with pen and gouache, uses soft pastels and lush spreads that follow the spare text. Though a testament to friendship that plays out all over the world, the story has a dated and distinctly Northern European feel. Some elements feel discomfiting in terms of racial and socioeconmoic dynamics. Dina, who is white, lives at the top of the hill in a big house, and brown-skinned Adin lives at the bottom, in a travel trailer: “Adin’s mother worked on the farm picking fruit.” Adin’s family moves suddenly, for a better life that in classic storybook fashion is instantly realized, and the friendship continues despite the barriers, but readers are unlikely to feel a connection to the characters or their situation.
VERDICT A rural European setting and lack of cultural insight limits the audience for this attractive tribute to childhood friendships. An additional purchase.

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