- Dandelion's Dream by Yoko Tanaka
Tanaka, Yoko Dandelion's Dream; written and illus. by Yoko Tanaka. Candlewick, 2020 [40p] Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-5362-0453-7 $16.99 R* 4-8 yrs
In this wordless picture book, a dandelion blossoms into a tiny floral-maned lion, who sets out merrily to see the world. He hops a train, then a sheep, then a ship, and ends up in an overwhelming big city. He's restored by sheltering in a movie theater, though, and he's so entranced by the film's toy planes that he imagines himself into one flying high over the city. The fluffy clouds he heads toward prove to be his field of dandelions and he joins them in setting seed, whereupon the puffy white seedlings blow into the air and take the form of a lion, leaping at the moon. This has the visual focus and imaginative charm of a short film, with creative paneling masterfully handling the story's pacing. Tanaka employs moody, dark charcoals leavened by sunny yellow in Dandelion's mane and tail tuft (and, eventually, his plane), with subtle drifts of yellow warming the graytone of the dandelion field. What keeps the palette from somberness is the ridiculous whimsy: Dandelion is more childlike than catlike in his wildly emotional visage, running gape-mouthed with joy for the horizon or contentedly cuddling a puzzled sheep. Viewers may wish that the story let him forge a longer friendship with the little movie-going girl who thrills him with the gift of a popcorn kernel as big as he is, but kids will enjoy the fancy, wonder what counts as reality in the story of a dreaming dandelion, and give those puffballs amid the grass new affection.