Two lumpy stuffed animals pack up a red balloon, wave goodbye to their potted pet cactus and set sail in a paper hat to find the end of the world—a place they hope has enough lemons for an endless supply of lemonade and a staircase to the moon!
Quiet, concise language and poignant watercolor illustrations pull readers into this far-out fable about a friendship between a toy elephant (Hopper) and a yellow mouse (Wilson). Children will immediately like these two funny little guys, whose exposed stitching make them seem both Velveteen and vulnerable. They'll also fall for the book's soothing cadence and rolling rhythms. Simple sentences beat up against gestural artwork like small waves on a ship's bow. Sensitive line work and atmospheric washes of cool colors communicate the depth of Hopper and Wilson's friendship and their shared despair when a storm separates them at sea. A frightening spread of the two caught in mammoth, murky waves causes trembles; a chilling, misty sequence of lonely Wilson calling hoarsely for his buddy brings tears. The reunion is inevitable and immensely moving. Hopper, a small, blurry smudge far, far away, shouts from an entire page of white space, "Wilson, is that you?"
Winsomely ambiguous and otherworldly, this sweet, quirky story offers fantastic footholds for dizzying discussion. (Picture book. 4-12)
Hopper, a stuffed blue elephant, and his chum Wilson, a yellow mouse, set off in a newspaper boat in search of the end of the world. Hopper goes overboard in a storm, though, and Wilson has to canvass some sea turtles ("I lost my friend Hopper. Have you seen him by chance?"), a penguin ("He's a big guy. Funny ears"), and a "giant fish" (it's a whale) before he and Hopper are reunited. Instead of finding the end of the world and fulfilling their wishes (Wilson wanted lots of lemonade; Hopper wanted to touch the moon), they arrive back at home, tired but satisfied. Van Lieshout (Bloom!), a gifted illustrator, plays up the suspense of the separation with lots of space in the spreads and long waits; even when Wilson receives a clue that Hopper is nearby (the string from his friend's red balloon), Hopper doesn't appear for another two pages. While the underlying message is cautious--Hopper and Wilson's friendship and safety are more important than their dreams--van Lieshout's story is filled with adventure, emotion, and imagery that supplies lots of effervescent warmth. Ages 3-5. (July)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
PreS-Gr 1--Hopper, an elephant, and Wilson, a mouse, wonder what the end of the world is like. Will there be a staircase to the Moon? An endless supply of lemonade? They bid farewell to their pet cactus and, clasping a shiny red balloon, set sail in a folded-newspaper boat to find out. Their journey is scenic, dreamy, and dramatic; it reaffirms the sailors' friendship and reveals not only the end of the world but also the nature of the quest. Van Lieshout's deft, gentle watercolors bubble out of the fine ink outlines and mingle with one another into subtle, enchanting gradations of tint. Collage pieces like the newspaper boat add texture and depth. Most endearing of all is the portrayal of Hopper and Wilson as well-worn hand-stitched stuffed animals. Their facial expressions and postures delicately convey a vast range of emotions and paint a picture of the love and trust between true friends.--Susan Weitz, formerly at Spencer-Van Etten School District, Spencer, NY[Page 80]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.