cover image The Book from Far Away

The Book from Far Away

Bruce Handy, illus. by Julie Benbassat. Minerva, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-66265-133-5

This intriguing wordless story from Handy (The Happiness of a Dog with a Ball in Its Mouth) portrays an encounter between two youths: one of Earth, and a fantastical being from the cosmos. On a wander in the woods with a beloved book, the human child, portrayed with tan skin, spies a spaceship landing in a nearby clearing and watches as an apparent family group emerges. Two seeming adult figures, a young person, and a pet all engage—in splendidly saturated fanciful spreads by Benbassat (The Screaming Hairy Armadillo and 76 Other Animals with Weird, Wild Names)—in play and have a picnic. Examining the site after they’ve left, the human child finds a magical golden disk that reads as a sort of astrolabe, and soon encounters the youth, who comes to retrieve it. As a farewell gift, the child gives the being their favorite book, then rushes home to relate the story of this extraordinary encounter. Benbassat’s distinctive rendering of the outer space family and its belongings exude charm—their sunlike faces have golden beams that radiate outward, and a picnic blanket is poured from a vessel—and a final vignette hints that the story might continue. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Jennifer Joel, ICM Partners. Illustrator’s agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Aug.)