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Uplifting Picture Books That Don't Preach
The Red Book
The Red Book
by Barbara Lehman
This wordless fantasy is a delight to page through. Anyone who's ever felt lonely and in need of a friend can identify with and enjoy this story. A lonely city girl discovers a red book in the snow, opens it up and sees first a map, then an island, and then another lonely child. Then that lonely boy discovers a red book in the sand, and opens it to see the city, then a building, and then the girl reading her red book. They both look up, startled, then happy, each book they hold reflecting the other.
The girl buys balloons to fly over and visit the boy—but drops the book on the way. Both think all is lost, but then the girl arrives safely, to their delight—and a new child in the city discovers the red book, leaving the reader with the delicious knowledge that the magic book has been passed on.
The simple watercolor, guoache, and ink illustrations are outlined in black, making characters and objects stand out, and the somewhat muted colors provide a gentle, subdued feeling that works well with the magic of what is happening. Point of view works well, allowing us at times to watch the characters, and at other times to see things through their perspective. The colors used both in the cold winter city and the warm island reflect the temperature and mood well.
Sharp-eyed young readers will enjoy recognizing that the young boy who finds the red book the girl dropped is someone who was in her class.
This magical book can leave readers hope-filled, with a feeling of being more connected to others. It can remind them of the power of books, the imagination, and friends. And young readers will delight in knowing that they also hold a red book, much like the one in the story.
This is a fun, magical adventure, a true delight. Highly recommended.
A Caldecott Honor book.
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