You've Got Mail! A Letter for Leo by Sergio Ruzzier
LEO IS THE MAILMAN OF A LITTLE OLD TOWN.
HE CARRIES ALL KINDS OF MAIL: BIG BOXES, SMALL PACKETS, ENVELOPES OF EVERY SIZE, CATALOGS, LOVE LETTERS, BIRTHDAY CARDS.
LEO HAS A PLEASANT LIFE, EXCEPT FOR ONE THING.
HE HAS NEVER RECEIVED A LETTER HIMSELF.
Every day Leo trudges through town, stopping sometimes for a game of bocce with the others, or sitting and sipping tea with a hospitable hen.
But Leo, a slightly stooped, mild-mannered weasel, is clearly lonely, and the letters he delivers only remind him that he is alone most of the time.
Then one morning, when he is about to open a mailbox, he hears something strange:
What could it be? He looks inside the box and sees a little bird who seems lost.
"YOU ARE TOO LITTLE TO FLY SOUTH BY YOURSELF," SAYS LEO.
Leo gently takes the little bird home and feeds him his emergency supply of dried crickets. He beds him down in an old mail-sorting box, and soon the two settle in for the winter. They prepare and eat their meals together and sit by the fire together, and when it snows, they build a snowman together. Cheep borrows Leo's mailman's cap for their snowman and gives him birdlike feet made from twigs.
But spring comes. Cheep learns to fly, and soon they both know that it is time for him to take flight with the flocks of birds passing over and heading for their nesting territory. They wave, and with a last "cheep," Leo's friend leaves. Now Leo is even more lonely as he goes back to his solitary life.
But one day there is something in his mailbox. It's a letter--for him.
Hopefully, he opens it to read:
Cheep cheep cheep cheep. Cheep cheep cheep cheep!
Does this mean that Cheep will be back when autumn comes?
Sergio Ruzzier's latest, A Letter for Leo (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Clarion Books, 2014). is a sweetly simple story of loneliness, longing, and friendship found that finds it way straight to the heart. Stylized and spare, Ruzzier's art speaks through his simple line drawings and expressive faces, with something of the sensibility of Dr. Seuss, with comfortably curved lines for his characters and grassy hills colored in pale yellows, lavenders, and greens, spare, almost surreal flowers and weeds, and tiled-roof houses a la Tomie dePaola's that give a hint of an Italian setting. Kids too young to have ever been alone for more than a minute will feel the pathos of Leo's loneliness, the mailman who delivers daily but never receives, and will empathize at the happiness that just one letter can bring.
See some of Ruzzier's earlier work, as author-illustrator himself or providing the artwork for the noted Eve Bunting's text, right here.