Written and Illustrated by Andrew Prahin
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2014
Once, in the quiet countryside, a hat maker lived in a little cottage. His best friend visited every day.
The plot in a nutshell: A hat maker copes with his best friend moving away
Brimsby is a talented hat maker and his best friend comes over daily to make tea and help him with his business. But one morning, his friend tells him he is going far away to follow his dream of becoming a sea captain. Brimsby makes him a captain’s hat and wishes him luck. After his friend leaves, Brimsby is lonely. He goes for a walk, hoping to meet some new friends, and finds a tree filled with birds who are all too busy shoveling snow out of their nests to speak to him. He goes home and thinks for a long while, then gets some of his unsold hats and converts them into homes for the birds that will keep them out of the snow. Brimsby and the birds become friends and once in a while, they all go to visit the friend that moved away, all very grateful to know each other.
This is the debut picture book of author/illustrator Andrew Prahin and I hope it’s the first of many, if this is representative of the caliber of his work. The story is sweet and well-paced and pairs perfectly with the illustrations, which are done in Adobe Photoshop. The artwork’s color palette reflects Brimsby’s mood, with mostly shades of white and grey during the time when he’s lonely and bursting out with purples and greens when he’s with his new friends. I can’t tell exactly what kind of animal Brimsby is supposed to be, but his face is adorable and lovable.
I should probably state at this point that I happened to pick it up at the library about a week or so after my best friend at work, who shares tea and conversation with me every day, formally announced that she was moving away. So I brought the book home and start reading it and just a few pages in, when I realize what it’s about, I started sobbing like a sap. I will be purchasing a copy of this one for my home library. I was clearly destined to read this book and hope that you will add it to your must read list as well. It’s an absolutely beautiful story about the importance of having friends, making friends and treasuring your friends.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that good friends are important. For the most fulfilling life, stay in touch with those friends who move away and make new friends who are nearby.