Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Boyds Mills Press

Anke de Vries & Charlotte Dematons

If your children have never developed an attachment to a special blanket or stuffed animal, consider yourself lucky. There is nothing like that panic when you can't find that special item, as you are ripping the house apart room by room. We have a tattered blanket at our house that holds as many magical soothing qualities as it does patches.

Raf (it took me a minute to realize when the name originated, duh) and Ben are the very best of friends. The pair go everywhere together, until one day when Raf completely disappears. Although Ben searches every nook and cranny, his best friend is nowhere to be found. Ben is heartbroken.

The very next day a postcard addressed to Benjamin clatters into the mailbox. Raf has been found ... in Africa? It seems Raf is traveling! Five more postcards arrive, detailing the wonderful adventures he is experiencing. Ben reads of Raf floating through crowds of flamingos, bathing with a group of elephants, swinging on vines with monkeys and visiting a pack of (much taller) giraffes. The very last postcard announces that Raf is on his way home, weary from his travels.

I like how simple the set up is. Each page features a new postcard from Raf. Behind the postcard is a two page spread of his location. Although the illustrations are mostly scenery, if readers peer very closely, they may spot Raf. A nice plus is the humor injected into the postcard info - Raf's narrative of his journey is definitely appealing to kids.

At first I thought this was the smartest idea ever to wean a child from his childhood attachment. But then Raf shows up at the end, which squashes that theory. It makes me wonder about the story behind the story though. Did Ben's parents pull a switcheroo with the beloved stuffed kangaroo, or take him away for washing? In any case, if we ever have an incident with our blankie, I'll pulling out a stack of postcards and following Raf's lead.


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