Nosy Crow, 2019
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
A strange creature, looking dusty, tired, sad and frightened, arrived in the neighbourhood pulling a big suitcase. Immediately, the locals started quizzing him about what was inside. And the stranger told them there was a teacup, as well as a table and a wooden chair for the teacup and him to sit on, and that there was even a little kitchen in a wooden cabin where he made his cup of tea. Then, because he was so tired after having travelled for so long, he lay down to rest.
But the locals were sceptical. How could all that fit in one suitcase? How could they befriend and trust anyone who told such lies? And so they decided to break open the suitcase…
Naylor-Ballesteros, author of I Love you, Stick Insect and I’m Going to eat This Ant, can be relied upon to write engaging and entertaining stories for young readers that are always a bit different, and this one is no exception. Told almost entirely in dialogue – a different colour for each character – it echoes the natural reticence we have for strangers who seem a bit different, but also sets up the dilemma of how far is too far when it comes to investigating them. Did Fox, Rabbit and Bird go too far smashing open the suitcase? There is also the rich discussion that could be had about what they discovered; what it tells them about the stranger and how everyone has a unique story, perhaps even secrets; their efforts to right their wrong and the stranger’s reaction to that. How would they have responded?
On the surface, it seems like a simple read-once story for little ones, but, like the best picture books, there are many layers waiting to be discovered and discussed.