Written and Illustrated by Maria van Lieshout
Philomel Books, 2014
Hopper and Wilson looked up at the starry sky.
The plot in a nutshell: Best friends set off to bring back a star.
Best friends Hopper and Wilson pack a few things into their paper airplane, say good-bye to their beloved cactus and fly off into the night to bring back a star as a night light. The first star they come to is too big, so they keep searching. Other stars they find don’t seem perfect either, so they take a break on the moon to have a snack and think about it. Wilson finds a perfect star in the sky, but Hopper wants a quick nap before they set out after it. Wilson, too excited to sleep, wanders off to the moon’s dark side and is amazed at how many stars he can see from there. He tries to go back to tell Hopper, but realizes that he doesn’t know the way back. He spies the perfect star and follows it and it leads him back to Hopper, who hugs him close. The two friends go back together and Wilson shows Hopper the huge sky full of perfect stars and Hopper tells him they are perfect where they are, with each other. Missing their cactus, the friends return home, where their perfect star becomes the perfect night light in the sky.
Author/illustrator Maria van Lieshout first introduced us to Hopper the elephant and Wilson the mouse in 2011’s Hopper and Wilson, which I loved for its simple sweetness. I’m glad to say that this book shares the same qualities, celebrating the friendship between these two with a new story that is whimsical and touching. These two characters are very supportive of and devoted to each other, which is always nice to see in friends. Cute details, such as their shared love of their potted cactus and the satisfied way they relax back on their pier at the end of their journey, add to the warmth of this story.
The artwork is done in, according to the author, “watercolors, ink, collage, colored pencil, crayon, a smudge of acrylics and some technology to pull it all together” and the colors are wonderful. The pictures of the night sky are particularly beautiful, especially when Hopper and Wilson are silhouetted against it. I hope Ms. van Lieshout continues telling stories with these two characters.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that many things in the world are meant to be enjoyed from a distance.