Bill can't find his favourite socks. He spills his milk. His cereal is soggy and, jamming his school bag over his head, he has a foreboding feeling about the day.
On the way to school, that little puff of grey over his head becomes darker and larger, until it becomes a large, melancholy presence that trails him from classroom to playground. It makes Bill feel sad. When he tries to explain it to his teacher, no words come out.
This is a truly divine story about a wee boy with the weight of the world on his shoulders--whose rose-coloured glasses have well and truly slipped from his nose. He doesn't like the big grey, melancholy presence but he just doesn't know how to make it go away. His plight weighs as heavily on the reader as it does on Bill, and the emotional response to both narrative and image is palpable.
What I love about this story, is that--in so few words--it manages to progress its main character from a place of worldly pain, into a place of optimism and sunshine. Bill evolves, and there we are, as readers, championing him all the way.
We all know, most especially kids, what it's like to feel lost, lonely and blue. This book, for me, highlights the importance of teaching children to be positive, to make active choices to look for the beauty in life, to appreciate. This is not a given way to be--it's something we must learn, and I love how Bill learns to make peace with his occasional bad mood or blue day, to embrace it and allow the sunshine in.
Touches of humour, Walker's utterly charming, soul-charged illustrations, a strong character, and emotional depth, make this a beautifully-rounded creation. Sure to become a modern day classic.
Title: Mr Huff
Author/Illustrator: Anna Walker
Publisher: Viking, $24.99 RRP
Publication Date: 24 June 2015
For ages: 3 - 8
Type: Picture Book