Phaidon. Sept. 2020. 48p. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781838661595.
PreS-Gr 3–Did Ungerer know this would be his last work? Given the long experience of the author of, among others, No Kiss for Mother, and Rufus—a bat who learns that black and white are not the only colors in town—could he have left us this note-in-a-bottle? With birds, bats, and butterflies gone, it is up to Vasco’s shadow in this barren, deserted, vacant world to send him the signal to go “scram” around the next corner, cross the street. He is entreated by one lonely soul to deliver a letter; having delivered the letter, the recipient begs Vasco to take the child, Poco, with him. What follows are epic scenes of an ice age, furnaces, crumbling buildings, and tanks ready to run them down. The black lines of the landscape are at unforgiving angles, in a palette of too-bright pink, turquoise, and orange. Vasco and Poco arrive to safety, and live out their days, though perhaps not the days they had planned. Share this with older picture book readers or in story hours for vivid discussions of what life is, and what is our purpose.
VERDICT A must purchase, though cryptic, for its sobering affirmations of life despite crisis will reassure all ages.
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