In Caroline Finding Miss Lilly, a young girl named Caroline learns a lesson in the value of kindness after a journey to find her lost friend, Miss Lilly, a cow.
Caroline lives on a farm and helps to raise Miss Lilly. She shares her “imaginary thoughts” with Miss Lilly, who “listen[s] patiently to all her stories.” One night, a violent storm strikes. After it passes, Caroline and her mother look through the window and see that Miss Lilly is painted in a variety of colors under a rainbow with “sprinkles of color pouring down…”
Going outside for a closer look, Caroline and her mother soon discover that a fence blew down during the storm and Miss Lilly has strayed. They go in search and contact various neighbors who have seen and helped Miss Lilly. The pair notices that the hair of each person who aided Miss Lilly is now a color of the rainbow. Eventually, they find Miss Lilly, and Caroline realizes that “when people are kind, their true, beautiful colors shine” through.
This story has an engaging visual premise: Miss Lilly literally rubs off on the farmers when they treat her well, thus illustrating the impact of benevolent behavior through the transformation of the farmers’ hair color. This is an appealing conceit, although readers may wonder why Miss Lilly was the one sprinkled with color to begin with (did she perform an act of kindness, like the others?).
Additionally, while the cover illustration is a complex watercolor depiction of a cow, the book’s internal art is mechanical and simplistic, giving a disjointed sense to the presentation. Overall, the pictures lack the creative spark and detail of more accomplished fare. (Note: in one picture, Caroline prays for Miss Lilly in her bedroom, where a cross hangs on the wall; non-Christians may find this objectionable.)
Nonetheless, the story offers a sweet message that parents may find useful, particularly if they have children who are visual learners.