The Only Child portrays a lonely tot who becomes lost in a winter landscape. While her parents scour the city and surrounding countryside, the child scampers in snow, clouds, and seas with a mystical buck. This only child left the safety of home to visit Grandma; thankfully, the deer protects the child while guiding their journey. The discoveries made by the pair show how important companions are in life.
The book is illustrated in soft charcoal and chalk pastels, some images filling small boxes, others covering a full page. By using charcoal and pastel, images feel gentle and dreamlike, especially in the fantasy scenes. In contrast, artist Guojing’s urban settings have sharper lines and a gritty texture. In each image, the reader feels the child’s loneliness through the absence of color, the blank snow surrounding the child’s adventure, and the utterly silent text. I felt truly lonely reading the book, scanning the tot’s face and accompanying landscape. I saw that the new companions – the buck, a polar bear cub, and a blue whale – must be temporary, for they do not exist in the ordinary world of adults. I heard the longings for friends and family, as each page tugged me toward the next in hopes of being embraced by Grandma and Mom and Dad.
The Only Child whispers of loneliness, dreams, friendship, family, and adventure. The book reverberates with the timeless yearnings we all have, drawing the reader into the story with its familiar emotions and contrasting world of fantasy. Both young and old alike will enjoy the tale, especially when shared with a much-loved companion.
– Lora Poser-Brown
The Only Child
Schwartz & Wade
2015, 112 pages, 8.4 x 11.5 x 0.6 inches