World Kid Lit Review: Oscar seeks a friend by Pawel Pawlak

World Kid Lit Month may have ended but there’s still plenty of activity out in the world of translated and world books for children. Today I’m reviewing a book that has already received quite a lot of attention: Oscar seeks a friend by Pawel Pawlak, translated from Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones.

This book is all about Oscar, a cute little skeleton. But Oscar’s sad. He doesn’t have any friends and he thinks that because he’s so ugly, particularly now he’s lost a tooth, he will never make any friends. So when he sees a little girl burying a tooth, he asks if he can have it. While initially resistant to handing it over, she does give it to him, as long as he helps to find her a friend.

And so begins a whirlwind of fun. The little girl takes Oscar to see her world. I love the collage pictures and the little girl doing a cartwheel – something my daughter picked out. One page shows them listening to a shell and the words read: “She and her friend would talk and talk forever, sharing their biggest secrets, dreams and other very important things.” Of course these are all things that Oscar and the girl are doing as they unconsciously become friends.

After having seen the little girl’s world, Oscar takes her by the hand to show her his world. I love this bit. The little girl goes willingly to learn about how Oscar lives. Life for Oscar is different: the pages are black with skeleton people and animals. Again, the pictures are wonderful.

At the end, it’s time for the girl to go home and they make plans to meet again. Oscar hands the tooth back to the little girl. He doesn’t need it anymore. He’s found what he is looking for.

I love the way Oscar’s new friend shows him her life and her world and then Oscar reciprocates telling her all about his life, showing her how he lives. While they live in very different worlds, they are happy to share their “biggest secrets, dreams and other very important things”. This is an invitation to our children to be open minded and to find out more about how other people live.

To find out more about this book and to read interviews with the publisher and translator, please follow this link over to the World Kid Lit Blog.

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