FICTION

Nothing in Common

HMH. Sept. 2020. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780544774780.
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PreS-Gr 2–In a wistful urban landscape, two children (one with blue hair, pants, and backpack; the other wearing red) quietly admire the neighbor’s dog from their separate apartment windows but never speak to him, or each other. The first half of the book emanates a delicate introversion, from the downcast glances and gouache-tinged pencil-and-ink illustrations to the repeated refrain (“they had nothing in common”) and the lyrical flourishes (”things they felt under the floors of their hearts”). Then the story takes a whimsical turn. The dog has gone missing, so the two children don helmets and binoculars in their designated colors and venture out into the depopulated city to search. Inevitably, they will meet on their common quest. Hoefler manages this surreal twist with the same introspective lyricism as before (“a balloon is a great moon with ropes”), the language sustaining the quiet expectation of the first half. The illustrations take on a slightly heightened shine with nightfall—stars twinkle, light radiates more distinctly, the colors begin to blend—as the children restore the balloon-dog to its lonely owner and begin their friendship.
VERDICT This simultaneously hushed and fanciful version of two-loners-find-their-perfect-match offers an unusual combination of tone, content, and fancy.

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