Penguin Random House
Random House Australia Children’s
I have always admired Mike Dumbleton’s ability to take a simple story line or idea and turn it into a gorgeous and relevant picture book for little ones. This one is no exception.
If, as a parent, you have ever been in a similar position you will completely empathise but for little people who have had a loss of some special comfort in their life it is just so special.
Eve, like many little humans, has a special friend. Her toy elephant Elly goes everywhere with her. So of course, when her family goes on holidays Elly is also there enjoying the beach and the sea.
On the way home when Eve feels ill and the car stops for a break, Elly drops out of the car and is left behind inadvertently. Naturally Eve is just devastated but with loving parents to help her work through this dilemma is somewhat mollified. Dad being very simpatico orders a new ‘Elly’ online and when this new friend arrives has a very convincing story to explain why she is smaller – after all, all that running to follow the car! Imagine Eve’s surprise when the original Elly turns up, posted by some kind finder. I can just imagine Dad’s face as the plan backfires.
Two things come to mind which make this resonant with me especially. A long time ago my Jen went on camp (must have been school camp as Brownie/Guide camps I was there as the leader). I was left in charge of her pet mice. Mouse disappears – instant panic!! Race to pet shop to find identical mouse. Jen arrives home – “She looks smaller”………hmmm, maybe she missed you and fretted? Total bust two days later when the original mouse was found climbing the lounge room curtains!!!
Secondly, when Jen was in hospital critically ill at the start of last year, I bought a little plush cat for her to cuddle for comfort when we were gone. After we lost her, I told Small that Mummy asked her to look after Mr Squiggles and he is always in evidence – in fact, it took months before she didn’t have him under her arm 24/7. In a panic recently, as Mr Squiggles gets smaller and grubbier (despite a couple of baths) I have bought a replacement when I happened to see it but know there is no way in hell she would ever be fooled.
Sometimes, we underestimate the depth of attachment our little people have with these special toys or items and as adults it can be easy to brush over it with – ‘It will be alright’. Loss is loss – no matter how old you are.
I love that Eve’s Dad makes sure he tries everything to minimise his little girl’s pain – everyone needs a daddy just like that.
Laura Wood’s illustrations are simple but evocative – thank you both for such a super book for small humans.