Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Review - The Hideout

The Hideout
by Susanna Mattiangeli
illustrated by Felicita Sala
Date: 2019
Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: library

It’s time to go, but no one can find Hannah! That’s because she’s in the park with much to do. She needs to collect caterpillars and sticks, make a bow and arrow, and build a bed out of leaves. Deep in the shrubs, she sets up a secret hideout for herself and her companion, an Odd Furry Creature. Together, they hunker down over the campfire, lost in their own little world. But then a voice cuts through the branches and clearly says, “Where are you?” Hannah brushes off her paper, and the reader learns that Hannah was lost—not in the woods—but in her drawing. This dreamlike, lyrical picture book with shades of Where the Wild Things Are illustrates the power of imagination to transport us to new worlds.

(synopsis from Goodreads)


On the surface, yes, this is a picture book about imagination and getting "lost" in your own creative world. But as I read this, I felt vaguely unnerved because I had no idea what was going on.

Hannah is missing from her room. We find out she's in the park, cavorting with the Odd Furry Creature that she found in a shrub (it likes to hide in the darkness). Please tell me I'm not the only one who thought that sounded kind of dirty! (No? It's just me? Moving on, then...) Hannah and the OFC roast pigeons (I guess they had to catch them first) and eat cookies they find on the ground (*barf*). Then Hannah hears her mother calling her, so she takes the OFC and ventures outside, where old ladies stare at it and children pet it (okay, really? I'm the only one who's totally weirded out?). Then Hannah's magically back in her room and we find out she was there the whole time, drawing. (Yes, that's a bit of a spoiler... but it's already in the synopsis.)

The premise is thin, and not a lot to hang a whole picture book on. I spent so much time wondering why she was running away from her mom's voice in the beginning. Had something happened? Why did she want to live in the park? None of those questions are really answered. "She was just drawing a picture," is about all the answer we get... and it's not a very satisfying one. I guess maybe the kid is lonely, but I don't really know what that has to do with living in the bushes in the park.

Weird book.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 2/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall: 2 out of 5

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