Where Do Lost Stuffed Animals and Baby Blankets Go? Read on to find out!
Blanket & Bear, A Remarkable Pair (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, $16.99, ages 3 and up), the debut picture book from L.J.R. Kelly (grandson of Roald Dahl) with illustrations by Yoko Tanaka, is an ideal parents’ go-to book when beloved toys get lost. Some parents buy two of everything just-in-case, others spend hours retracing their steps or making frantic phone calls in an attempt to locate a lost teddy or blanky. But here’s another option. Read this picture book to your distraught youngster and it’s likely they’ll find solace in this charming story with its muted artwork harkening back to a time when men wore hats, women wore dresses and people traveled abroad by steamship. Parents may find Tanaka’s illustrations a bit sombre in the beginning, but I found that as the story’s mood changed, so did the feeling conveyed in each picture. Stick with this story as it tugs at the heartstrings and is sure to start a meaningful conversation with your child.
With an original voice very different from that of his grandfather, Kelly is a terrific storyteller in his own right. The premise is quite a simple one in that when a young boy loses his beloved blanky and teddy, he carries on with his life. The focus is not on how he copes with the loss. Quite the contrary. Kelly chooses to show how the boy’s cherished possessions, spend their time searching for the boy, hoping to be reunited. Instead, they arrive “at an island of lost blankets and bears, living in retirement without worries or cares. It’s here they sadly learn from the island’s king that they’ve likely been replaced. Unable to accept this possibility, they depart and resume their quest. When at last they find the boy, he’s a young lad more interested in sport and girls. No longer needed, they’re free to return to the island and join the other lost or abandoned blankets and bears.
Children hearing this story read to them or reading it with the help of a parent, will likely want to discuss this new take on “they all lived happily ever after,” because in this case the book’s characters did not end up living happily ever after together, but there’s no denying they were all happy in the end.
– Reviewed by Ronna Mandel