Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Single Step: Come With Me by Holly McGhee

All over the world, the news is told and told and retold of anger and hatred.

The little girl was frightened.

Kids can't be kept from hearing about bad things. Sometimes it's hard not to be frightened. What can this little girl do to make it better?

Her Papa said, "Come with me."

Her father takes her by the hand, out on the street and down into the subway. The girl is confused. They ride through the long tunnels, and everyone looks sad and shut up inside themselves. But then her papa tips his hat, and some of the people smile back.

They won a tiny battle over fear.

Still the people-against-people news is bad, and the little girl asks again what she can do about it. Her mother takes her hand and takes her out to get things for dinner.

The grocery store is full of foods and people from all over the world, and her mother tells her,

"One person doesn't represent a family, or a race or the people of one land."

But what can she do to make the world better? The child ponders as she sets the table and eats with her parents, while her little dog lies under the table. Maybe she can take him out for a walk all by herself.

Her parents look like they are not sure about that. But maybe the boy across the hall can go with her.

He opens his door.

Two together are better than one.

The longest journey begins with a single step, in Holly McGhee's hopeful Come With Me (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2017). Perhaps making the world better really is one step at a time, one day at a time, and McGhee's simple story with its simple message for youngsters is that everyone and everything they do matters in this world, and that may be the best that can be said. At least, it's a good start. It's an old message, but Pascal Lamaitre's retro-styled illustrations (a little reminiscent of Syd Hoff) are so quintessentially childlike and unprepossessing that they persuasively carry the premise that a little caring and courage are sometimes all anyone has to offer the world and its ills. Says The New York Times Book Review, “Together, the words and pictures work seamlessly to deliver a powerful message: What we do matters.”

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