Every child needs that picture book on friendship. A picture book that unfolds a tale of the simple joys of having a friend. Klaus Baumgart’s Wanted: A Friend from the Lenny and Tweek series is just that picture book. Lenny, a field mouse with enormous sneakers, goes in search of a friend. The way to do that, of course, is to post a friend request on a tree (not the Facebook style) and hope that a friend sees the note and comes along. While Lenny waits in anticipation, he bumps into Tweek, a bird in sunsetty colours, who offers to give Lenny some company till a friend arrives. Together they play hide-and-seek, fly an aeroplane (and how!) and dig for treasure – you know, the kind of stuff that friends usually do together. But, does Lenny realise what he’s found in Tweek?
Klaus Baumgart, a German graphic designer and a very successful picture book artist, presents his readers with a story simply written and colourfully illustrated. The panels are in delightful watercolour hues and very reminiscent of the 80s and 90s, those years where children had crayons rather than touchscreens (parents, be ready for some nostalgia). Some pages are full of detail and whimsy, like the interiors of Lenny’s caravan, and it would be fun to draw a child’s attention to these.
Wanted: A Friend highlights the spirit of friendship in a down-to-earth manner. When Tweek asks how to recognize a friend, Lenny replies, “A friend is someone with whom you can have lots of fun. And sometimes you argue with a friend, but then you make up again. And a friend is someone whom you miss when they are not there.”
Apart from the mildly abrupt ending, Wanted: A Friend is an endearing tale, a perfect bedtime story and an early start for your child to understand that life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans (as Lennon sang to his son).
By Benita Fernando
Author: Klaus Baumgart
Translator: Baumhaus Verlag (From the German )
Price Rs 35.00
Publisher: Pratham Books, New Delhi, 2010
Subject Category: Adventure/Fantasy