cover image Rosa’s Song

Rosa’s Song

Helena Ku Rhee, illus. by Pascal Campion. Random House Studio, $17.99 (40p) ISB

The creators behind The Paper Kingdom reunite in this clunkily paced story about finding a new friend in a new place. Jae, who has light brown skin, is “new to the country, the city, the building,” far away from “his old village, his old home, his old friends,” and worried about forgetting “my new words,” writes Ku Rhee. But with encouragement from his mother, he soon meets downstairs neighbor Rosa, portrayed with brown skin, whose parrot, Pollito, accompanies her everywhere. The children become fast friends as Rosa imagines the aspects of life that Jae is missing (when he comments, “No mountains” about the window’s view, she climbs the sofa: “I’m heading for clouds!”). Campion’s sparsely finished digital illustrations combine reality and imaginative landscapes—as when the children explore their complex for “golden Incan treasures, and a rainforest with parrots—like where Rosa was born.” When Rosa’s family must abruptly move away (“They didn’t have a choice,” Jae is told), she leaves Pollito behind, precipitating a moment of anguish followed equally suddenly by the opportunity to welcome new neighbors. Ages 4–8. (June)