Shaun Tan describes this beautiful story as ‘A heartfelt fable about the pain of grief, and the joy of its revelation.’ If these wise words were not enough to encourage me to open the book, then the quote from Daniel Johnson’s lyrics worked their magic.
‘The colours are bright, bright as ever.
The red is strong, the blue is true.
Some things last a long time.
Some things last a lifetime.
I had seen Daniel Johnson perform at the Union Chapel; taken there by a good friend. A few years later, just like Wolf, my friend had disappeared from our lives.
So, this is how the story goes:
Fox and his old friend Wolf spend a perfect day together at their favourite spot by the lake. They talk and laugh and swim together in the bright sunshine. Towards the end of this perfect day, Wolf places a big, grey paw on Fox’s shoulder and says, ‘Tomorrow I will be starlight.’
The next day Wolf is nowhere to be found. Fox searches everywhere and still she waits for Wolf.
‘He said he was going to be starlight,
So maybe he’s up there in the sky.’
As night falls Fox heads up the mountains that surround the lake and calls out for Wolf. She is in search of the brightest star. She pulls the ‘shining star blanket’ around her and cries in the darkness. This is the moment that she knows that Wolf is never coming back. Through her tears she recalls Wolf’s words; ‘Life really is beautiful.’ From that moment ‘all the things they had done together came flooding back in bright colours.’ Fox now understands that Wolf is gone but all their happy memories would be with her always. She is able to carry on.
The world is surrounded by swirly, jagged mountains that we first meet in a cool green on the endpapers. There is also a bird that will appear throughout the story to support Fox. By the end of the story the landscape is flooded by light and sunshine. The illustrations reveal the emotional journey. The image of Fox wrapped in the velvety star blanket is heart wrenching but is followed by an image of a little red paw in the sunshine which moves us beyond the grief and sadness. Fox is not alone. There is the little bird and also a mouse for friendship and support, and of course there are happy memories.
The impact of this story lasts a long time.
Hodder Children’s Books
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