Written by L.J.R. Kelly, Illustrated by Yoko Tanaka
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2013
Here comes a story
Of a blanket and bear
Owned by a boy
Who left them somewhere.
The plot in a nutshell: A lost bear looks for his boy.
The boy receives the bear and blanket on the day he’s born and they go with him everywhere. One day, on an ocean voyage, the boy leaves the bear and blanket on a deck chair to run off and play with other kids. He is broken-hearted when he can’t find them again. Meanwhile, the bear and blanket are blown across the sea to an island where all the lost blankets and bears make their home. The island’s king tells them to stay there, but they want to be reunited with their boy. They travel for a long time and when they finally find the boy, he’s considerably older. Realizing he doesn’t need them anymore, they return to the island and the freedom to do whatever they want.
First time picture book author L.J.R. Kelly tells a rhyming story that will probably depend heavily on the reader to determine whether the ending is happy or sad. The plot took some turns that I wasn’t expecting and I really liked the ending, although I did find it a little bit sad. It’s good to show a child who loses a beloved toy and moves on with life instead of being reunited. I see it as a metaphor for those relationships that become one-sided after a while and the person who is still invested in it has to realize that it’s over before they can move on and be where they’re supposed to be.
Illustrator Yoko Tanaka’s artwork, in acrylics, is in soft focus and muted colors. The book opens with a picture of the expectant parents looking at the bear in a toy store window and closes with a picture of all the bears on the island singing and telling stories around a fire. I love these bookended images, which remind us that how many decisions make an impact on our lives. The book’s final quatrain poses the idea that all of your loved toys are somewhere telling stories about you and that feels hopeful and nostalgic. I enjoyed this one very much.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that not all friendships last forever and sometimes moving on is the best thing to do.