Pandora lives alone, in a world of broken things. She makes herself a handsome home, but no one ever comes to visit. Then one day something falls from the sky
. . . a bird with a broken wing.
Little by little, Pandora helps the bird grow stronger. Little by little, the bird helps Pandora feel less lonely. The bird begins to fly again, and always comes back—bringing seeds and flowers and other small gifts. But then one day, it flies away and doesn’t return. Pandora is heartbroken.
Until things begin to grow . . .
What a strange, lovely little book! Pandora, the little fox who lives in a world of broken, discarded things, is reminiscent of other classic children’s characters – like Ariel from The Little Mermaid and the loveable robot Wall-E, Pandora collects the detritus of the human world and creates her own wonderful little home. Pandora rescues a little bird, nursing it back to health, and her kindness is rewarded when the little bird helps transform her cold, empty world into one of sunshine, warmth and joy.
Pandora is not too dissimilar in story and spirit to another picture book I recently reviewed, Little Bot and Sparrow. In both stories, a bird helps a lonely outcast find hope and joy. While in Little Bot and Sparrow the two characters are reunited in a dreamworld, in Pandora, the bird actually helps create an entirely new world for Pandora to enjoy.
Like Little Bot and Sparrow, Pandora is a bit hazy on details. How does a fox end up living alone in an abandoned, seemingly post-apocalyptic world? Where has everyone else gone? How does a fox become sentient? How does she survive all alone? Where did the bird come from? Where did she get the magic seed(s) that transform Pandora’s world into one of joy and light? Was the seed actually magic, or was it the power of friendship, love or hope that transformed Pandora’s world? Pandora’s new world is full of “living things” – where did they come from? Were they hiding somewhere? Why didn’t they contact Pandora before? Are they sentient? Is the world in fact transformed at all, or is this all just a figment of Pandora’s imagination?
Again, though, none of this really matters. All that really matters is the spirit of the story – that even if the darkest times, there is always a light, and through kindness we can all transform our worlds into places of hope and life.
Victoria Turnbull’s illustrations are both highly-detailed and dreamlike, with a soft, radiant light that seems to glow right from within each page. Young readers can pore over each page, examining and delighting in each small detail. The text is limited, allowing the illustrations to take centre stage.
Elegant, whimsical, and gently moving, Pandora is a lovely story of regeneration, hope and the restorative powers of selflessness and love.
Hardcover, 32 pages
April 4, 2017 : Clarion Books
Source: Raincoast Books