Monday, January 15, 2018

'Everybody's Welcome'!

I guess my secret love for well-illustrated children's books is not such a secret anymore. N gave me a most thoughtful Christmas gift in the form of Patricia Hegarty's 'No Matter Who You Are... Everybody's Welcome' (2017). I love it! It's gorgeously illustrated by Greg Abbott.

We follow Little Mouse who dreams building a big house in the forest, and one by one, animals arrive to help her and join her, and she makes everybody feels welcomed. A frog whose home has dried up appeared first, followed by rabbits who got chased out of their by an eagle. Then a Brown Bear, and many others who had to leave their homes for various reasons. But the book didn't go into too many reasons of why these animals have become homeless. Humans are only alluded to in the instance where the birds said they had to leave because their tree has been chopped down.

When the Little Mouse met the frog, she comforted him by saying, "Let's build a home together, we'll make it big and strong. And once we get it started you won't be sad for long." They started building a shelter. They became a team, and they began building a home. Together, they overcame all obstacles of rain and wind. "Everybody's welcome, no matter who they are, Wherever they may come from, whether near or far."

As the house took shape, at some point, Little Mouse said, "When our house is ready and everything's complete, We'll all live here together and life will be so sweet." And that was when I closed the final page of the book with a huge sigh. That would be Utopia. We're very very very far from it. Outside of this book, the world is divided, and prejudiced, and not generous. Some people call others’ homes ‘shitholes’. That’s not very nice.

I try to read children's books as they are, and not with an adult's eyes. I love the simplicity of children's picture books, and the ideals they represent or suggest. The first read is always happy because I block out all adult perspectives. Upon the second read, cynical me went, awwwwww. Yes, animals, all's candy floss and stardust, till the nitty-gritty of living together in close quarters literally ruffle one another's feathers. Perhaps this home could be sooo big, the size of a city, or a country, and then it could really accommodate everyone.

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