Hopper and Wilson (review)
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Reviewed by
van Lieshout, Maria. Hopper and Wilson; written and illus. by Maria van Lieshout. Philomel, 2011. 36p. ISBN 978-0-399-25184-9 $16.99 Ad 5-8 yrs.

Two friends ponder what they might find at the end of the world: Wilson, a mouse, is certain there will be lemonade, while Hopper, an elephant, imagines a staircase to the moon. Setting out on their boat to investigate, they encounter a torrential storm that washes Hopper overboard, but a persistent Wilson is able to track his friend down. When they finally spot what they perceive to be the end of the world, [End Page 543] they are both happy and surprised to find that they have actually arrived home, where lemon trees are growing and Hopper can pretend to touch the moon with his trunk. While the end-of-the-world theme is a bit conceptually lofty for the intended audience, it's mostly just an overlay on a story about friends who dream of a magnificent place that they can explore together. Young listeners may be somewhat baffled that that this special place turns out to be their own backyard, though, and Hopper's loss, while temporary, might be a bit anxiety-provoking for younger listeners. Those more comfortable with literary danger, however, will find Wilson's desperation and his reunion with his friend quite moving. The illustrations are the real strength here: van Lieshout's mixed-media art, described as "watercolors, ink, collage, colored pencil, crayon, a smudge of acrylics and some technology to pull it all together," works to great effect in matching the pace of this friendship tale. The characters' faces, while simply drafted in casual ink line, possess great expression, and the representations of affection between the two are thoughtfully composed. Backdrops with the fluid sweep of waterclor textured with the grain of colored pencil vividly capture the sea in different lights and moods, with the water appearing gentle and calm at times, ferocious and frightening at others. Despite the flaws, this might fit snugly among other friendship stories best shared in the comfort of a lap. [End Page 544]

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