Big Hid

Roisin Swales. Flying Eye (Consortium, dist.), $16.95 (36p) ISBN 978-1-911171-30-0
“Big and Little are a great team,” newcomer Swales begins. “They climb trees.” Little, a squirrel, stands triumphantly on a high branch, while Big, a tortoise, dangles below, tied to the branch with an orange rope. “They chew stuff,” Swales continues as Little eats cake and Big gnaws on olive-green leaves. One vignette shows them under sheets, dressed as lumpy ghosts (“They dress up”). When Big retreats mysteriously into his shell, Little is distressed, and his initial attempts to cheer Big up (such as baking his own favorite cake for the tortoise) don’t help. After more false attempts, a hug does the trick. There’s a change in tone as the smart, tongue-in-cheek comedy of the first act yields to earnest sentimentality (“Little missed Big very much”). Swales’s wide-eyed figures and simple shapes recall Chris Haughton’s work, with extra volume and detail. Bold close-ups convey intimacy, and an elegant palette of plum, vermilion, and tangerine warms the pages. Swales doesn’t get into the reasons behind Big’s retreat, and while Little’s well-meaning support is never in doubt, the decision to emerge remains Big’s alone. Ages 3–5. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/19/2017
Release date: 08/01/2017
Genre: Children's
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