The White Rose is guarded closely by the gardener, who once caught a cold walking barefoot trying to find his shoes, which had been hidden by a cat, which was a gift from his younger brother, who was married to Dalva, who had inherited the cat from her uncle, who died of a broken heart awaiting a love letter that never arrived... Eventually, we see how one tiny action can have marvelous consequences, and the story turns like a ferris wheel. With a playful lightness of touch, Mello explores serious questions about the importance of kindness and the dangers of greed. Mello's illustrations will inspire his young readers, providing them with familiar and approachable images while encouraging imagination to fill in the narrative gaps, as he captures the mysteries of childhood through rich, vibrant imagery.
Hans Christian Andersen Award winner Mello unspools a long, strange chain of people and events, only to reverse course and present an alternate (and frankly much cheerier) timeline. It all begins with White Rose, a flower carefully watched by a gardener; he never leaves the flower's side, not even after catching cold from walking around barefoot. The gardener's shoes, Mello explains, were hidden by his cat, a gift from his brother, whose wife inherited the pet from her uncle, who "died of sorrow waiting for a love letter that never came." More than a dozen eccentric interconnected characters are introduced from there an escaped circus monkey, an irate goldsmith, a "fake doctor" with bagpiping dreams, and more. It's like a floral equivalent to the butterfly effect, all leading back to White Rose, who suddenly reappears to steal the compass rose off a map. But how can she, if she's still being watched by the gardener? Mello's twisty, exaggerated images are as unruly as the paradoxical story he presents. Readers may not know what to believe, and when White Rose escapes at book's end for real, this time it's anyone's guess what chaos might follow. Ages 5 8.