Written and Illustrated by Derek Anderson
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2006
Blue Burt and Wiggles were the best of friends. They played together all summer long.
The plot in a nutshell: Best friends try to prevent the end of summer
Blue Burt (a bird) and Wiggles (a worm) have a great summer together. As the summer ends and the leaves start to fall, the other birds start flying south and Blue Burt realizes he will need to leave, too. He finds art supplies and suggests to Wiggles that they can stop autumn from coming so he can stay longer. First, they tape the leaves back in the trees, then they paint the browning grass a summery green. They make construction paper flowers and glue them all around the woods and hang a big yellow paper sun high in the trees. But within minutes, the leaves were back on the ground, the painted grass had been trampled, and the sun and all the flowers were gone. All the other animals had used their decorations to help prepare for the coming winter. Realizing they can’t stop it, Blue Burt and Wiggles say goodbye and Blue Burt heads south. But they write letters and talk on the phone and are joyfully reunited in the spring.
Author/illustrator Derek Anderson first came up with Wiggles for a comic strip he drew for his college newspaper. (The book is dedicated to Mr. Anderson’s college roommate, Mike Wigton, who was the inspiration for Wiggles’ name.) And Wiggles almost didn’t make it into this book, as his character wasn’t even involved in the first draft. The book does a wonderful job of exploring the fear that comes along with having a friend move away and I love that it shows that there are many ways to stay in touch and manage a long distance friendship.
The artwork, in acrylic paint, sets colorful characters against the background of a forest that is settling into autumn, which makes their efforts to paint the grass and install paper flowers even more noticeable. There are lots of fun details to look for in the illustrations, including a self-portrait of the artist as a boy. I thought this book was a lot of fun and I particularly liked the creativity of the two friends trying to keep autumn at bay. I guess there are always times when we all would like to prolong the inevitable.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that pretending something isn’t happening doesn’t actually stop it from happening.