Thursday, April 21, 2016

Never Really Gone! The Power of Henry's Imagination by Skye Byrne

Henry's favorite toy was a rabbit called Raspberry. Raspberry was white with floppy ears and a red nose that looked just like a raspberry. Henry and Raspberry had been together a very very long time. Grandpa had given Raspberry to Henry the day he was born.

Of course, Henry loves his white rabbit and takes him everywhere he goes, especially when he goes to sleep.

But one day, when Henry wants to go out to dig carrots, he cannot find Raspberry.

Panic! Henry looks in the places where he's found a lost Raspberry before.

Henry looked in all the usual places--like underneath Grandpa, on top of the lamp, and inside pillowcases.

But Raspberry's not in any of them! Mom and Dad are summoned to get in on the search.  Parents know the dire consequences of a lost lovey, and they turned the house upside down. Under the sofa and beds, they find all sorts of lost things they'd been looking  for and all sorts of things they never knew were lost-- a chess piece, some keys, plenty of crumbs--but no white rabbit.

At last Grandpa has a suggestion:

"There's only one thing left to do.... You must imagine you have Raspberry back."

Imagine I have Raspberry back?" Henry wiped a tear away.

It seems hard, but Henry tries, and since he's done so many things with Raspberry, it's not so hard as he thought. Soon he and imaginary Raspberry  go exploring together, pretend to be pirates, hide from a storm in an imaginary snow cave and heat a can of beans over a campfire. After dinner, Henry and his imaginary rabbit lift off as astronauts flying by the stars. They complete their adventures as two dragon catchers searching for a fabled Purple Dragon.

Henry had so much fun imagining that he completely forgot Raspberry was lost. He even fell asleep as fast as if Raspberry were in his arms.

Is an imaginary rabbit as good as a real one? We'll never really know, because in Skye Byrne's
The Power of Henry's Imagination (The Secret) (Aladdin Books, 2015), there is a second happy ending when we see Grandpa steal into Henry's bedroom and place the now-found Raspberry beside the sleeping boy. Nic George's inventive illustrations play with the real and the imagined, portraying Henry's pretend adventures with Raspberry in thin, slightly disconnected black-line drawings, adding reality--in the form of leaves on the tree Henry climbs and the assorted detritus Dad digs out from under the sofa in the form of of collaged photos. The familiar tale of the lost toy takes finds a novel re-telling in this story about the power of what the poet Wordsworth famously called "that inward eye.""Choice words and creative visuals combine to celebrate and inspire the mind's eye," says Kirkus in their starred review.

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