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Thursday, June 4, 2009

For You and No One Else (Picture Book)

Released April 2009

Reviewed by Bob Walch

Bucksey and Sparklehart, two deer, are cavorting in the forest when Buck stumbles upon a seven-leaf clover. Wanting to share his discovery with his friend, Buck takes Sparklehart to the spot and says, "For you and no one else."

But when Sparklehart realizes there’s not just one seven-leaf clover but an entire field of them nearby, the deer responds, "Bucksey, you're my best friend. How lucky I am!" No sooner are those words out of his mouth than Sparklehart runs off with a mouthful of special clover.

Now the story gets a little weird. The deer begins giving away the clover to various does. He tells each one, "I have something curious for you. I found it in the forest. There was only one, and I thought: that's for Doe and no one else."

Watching this "game" his friend is playing with the females, Bucksey gets so upset he turns and runs away. There's more to this tale of betrayed friendship and hypocrisy, but I've given you enough of the storyline already. You'll have to read the rest for yourself to see how it turns out.

With its black and white artwork and quirky story, this is the oddest picture book I have come across this year. Frankly, I don't know what to make of it, and I'm not sure youngsters between the ages of four and seven will either. Since the author is from the Netherlands, perhaps something was lost in the translation.

After reading this little book, I was curious how a child would react to it. Needless to say, the "field test" drew some puzzled responses. On the other hand, asking the youngsters how they would feel if their friends treated them the way Sparklehart treated Bucksey did elicit some interesting dialogue.
This is a book you definitely want to look at before making a purchase. It may work for some children, but I would think they would have to be at the upper end of the intended age range.

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