Written and Illustrated by James Kwan
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2015
We’re searching for you.
The plot in a nutshell: Two hikers venture into the mountains in search of a yeti.
The hikers write letters to Yeti (who is never too far ahead of them) throughout their journey and a little bird delivers them. They tell him that they are friendly and hoping to find him. Shortly after they mention that their food supply is running low, they come upon a basket of berries and ask Yeti if he left them. When they mention that the forest is dark and getting cold, they find a prepared snow cave to keep them safe. When the storm blows over and they leave the cave, they realize they’re lost. Suddenly, a growling grizzly bear shows up and the hikers are terrified. But the yeti also shows up and asks the bear not to eat his new friends. Yeti then carries the hikers home and says goodbye to them. One of them finds a letter from Yeti, hoping to see them again soon.
I have read a lot of debut picture books recently and happily, they are all backing up my assertion that picture books are getting more and more wonderful every year. Here’s another debut, from author/illustrator James Kwan, and it’s thoroughly delightful. The story here is told entirely through letters and a little spoken dialogue and they all serve to bring us along on the dangerous and exciting journey of these two intrepid explorers. The letters give us lots of insight into these two ‘wild, but friendly’ hikers and we are rooting for them to achieve their goal of finding the yeti they seek.
The illustrations show us a very different yeti than the typical ‘abominable snowman’ prototype we usually see. This one is brown and furry, with a cute little face that shows vulnerability and kindness. Nothing scary at all about this guy. The backgrounds change from day to night and from clear weather to a snowstorm and the colors used in these different landscapes are lovely. It starts out as a funny concept, but ends up being a very warm story about friendship and stepping outside of your comfort zone. I hope Mr. Kwan is already at work on his next book.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that when you go in search of something, you often find more than you were looking for.