The magical power of imagination, good friends, and old-fashioned outdoor play are the focus of Casey Rislov’s fourth picture book.
In this age when children are often absorbed in solitary play with high-tech gadgetry, parents are sure to welcome a book about youngsters interacting with friends and using their imaginations as they play in the natural world. And children will be charmed with the circle of whimsical friends that Rislov has created here: a moose, a bluebird, and two bears. Together, the creatures act out imaginative scenarios, including: sitting in a sandbox armed with shovels and buckets as they dig up ancient dinosaur bones; playing in a kids’ swimming pool, imagining being chased by a shark; and climbing fences while masquerading as spies on a secret mission.
Stephen Adams’ illustrations beautifully support the text. They are colorful, lively, and packed with humorous touches: a moose wearing a mustache, a bear sporting a fishing hat, and a bird wearing swimming flippers. Adams also includes numerous little creatures to discover everywhere—ants, grasshoppers, butterflies, and fireflies—and does a superb job of capturing the animals’ expressions of contentment, surprise, delight, and amazement.
The story’s only issue is that while Rislov’s writing consists mainly of freestyle prose written in stanzas, sometimes the cadence is steady, other times less so. For example, one passage reads smoothly: “Time for us to work together./ Heave ho and off we go!/ Adventures, fortune,/ Life on the water.” But another offers a more choppy rhythm: “Nighttime creatures/ Are stirring about./ Let us follow/ One with wings.” The rhythmic changes are jarring and can make the story difficult to read aloud.
Nevertheless, this is a spirited, engaging offering. Youngsters will be delighted by this second collaboration of Rislov and Adams—and with any luck, they just might be inspired to head for outside adventures with their friends.
Also available as an ebook.