Written and Illustrated by Nadia Shireen
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2013
Deep in the forest there lived a yeti.
The plot in a nutshell: A misunderstood yeti makes a new friend.
Because Yeti is big and hairy, the other animals are afraid of him and they stay away from him, which makes him feel lonely. One day, a little red bird falls on him. Yeti roars at her, but she just laughs and tells him that she’s on her way to a tropical island to spend the winter. Yeti realizes the bird is lost and takes her home. They play together, laugh together and sing together, but Yeti knows the bird needs to go south because his home is too cold. He helps her plan her trip and says goodbye and is feeling lonely again, and then all the forest animals show up to play with him. Now he is surrounded by new friends and the little bird drops in on her travels from time to time, too.
Author/illustrator Nadia Shireen tells a wonderful story about friendship and acceptance, with the added bonus of an adorably drawn yeti. There’s a fantastic picture at the beginning of the story that says so much about the character of this yeti and his life. The page’s text says that he is the ‘biggest, hairiest, scariest beast anyone had ever seen.’ But the picture shows him walking away from the other forest animals and not threatening them (or even paying attention to them) in any way, which shows us that this threat is entirely in the perception of the animals. When this funny little bird accepts him as he is, the other animals see who he really is. Gosh, that is relevant to so many groups of people in our society.
The mixed media illustrations show us much more than just what we read in the book’s text. As we see Yeti and the bird playing together and coming to the sad realization that they will have to say goodbye, we can see the other forest animals watching, as well. We first see the whole group of them coming to play with Yeti while it’s winter and the snow is covering the ground. Then on the next page, it’s spring and we see them all having a wonderful time together and the beautiful spring colors symbolize the new beginning for all of them. It’s just lovely.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that sometimes an offer of friendship can change everything for someone.