Hamish the bear and Noreen the goose live an idyllic life on a pretty hillside, but the trains that speed by heading to the city intrigue Hamish, and with Noreen’s blessing, he follows the tracks until the green countryside gives way to streets populated entirely by humans. A chance encounter and act of kindness leads to a dream job as a crane operator (Hamish’s species isn’t an issue), and he discovers just how big the world is beyond his cottage: “From the top of the crane, Hamish could see the entire city and the green and blue beyond its edge. He could even see the curve of the earth.” But what starts as a classic adventure becomes something wonderfully different: instead of being confronted with an exclusionary choice, Hamish realizes he can keep a job he loves without sacrificing Noreen’s friendship—a bond re-cemented by a joint train excursion to the seashore. With loose, softly colored pencil and ink renderings that carry out an offbeat, reflective mood, Hirst (Alphonse, That Is Not OK to Do!) opens up the possibility that life, like the world Hamish sees from the crane, is big enough to accommodate all kinds of choices. Ages 3–7. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
With loose, softly colored pencil and ink renderings that carry out an offbeat, reflective mood, Hirst (Alphonse, That Is Not OK to Do!) opens up the possibility that life, like the world Hamish sees from the crane, is big enough to accommodate all kinds of choices.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
This there-and-back-again tale is surely worth the ride.
A sweet and charming story, this title excels in showing how the best of friends allow each other the space to pursue their own happiness...For larger picture book collections, the lesson that adventures are always richer when friends are along for the ride never grows old.
—School Library Journal
In this tale of home versus away, Hamish, a long-nosed bear, hankers to take the train to the city...a celebration of life’s abundant possibilities.
—The Horn Book
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1—Although Hamish the bear enjoys an idyllic life with his best friend, Noreen the goose, the daily passenger train entices him to travel beyond their country home. Noreen, a patient and supportive friend, encourages Hamish to act on his unrequited dream. Unprepared for the journey, Hamish makes a lucky acquaintance who gives him an opportunity to experience life in the city. Despite these thrills, he misses Noreen. A short train ride allows for a quick reunion that inspires Hamish to further adventure, this time with his friend by his side. A sweet and charming story, this title excels in showing how the best of friends allow each other the space to pursue their own happiness. While initially Hamish and Noreen have different ideas about exploring, neither pushes the other to change. During his city sojourn Hamish often thinks of Noreen, a reminder that no matter the distance between them, she is his true home. VERDICT For larger picture book collections, the lesson that adventures are always richer when friends are along for the ride never grows old.—Sophie Kenney, Aurora P.L., IL
Absence makes the heart grow fonder in this affectionate story of two best friends.
Hamish, an affable brown bear, and his friend Noreen, a white goose, live together in a cozy country cottage and love to watch the trains go by. Eager to ride a train and see the city, Hamish sets out while Noreen is content to stay home. When Hamish meets Christov, a human construction worker too sick to work the crane, Hamish enthusiastically offers to do so. He also learns to navigate the city and makes friends, but all the while he misses Noreen. When Christov tells Hamish, “I miss somebody, too…but he’s thousands of miles away,” Hamish returns to his friend, though he tells Noreen that he will continue to work in the city during the week. Hamish, who takes the furry, ursine version of a hero’s journey, is an endearing character; he has a friendly, curious nature, and his reunion with Noreen is a triumphant, warmhearted one. The illustrations effectively juxtapose Hamish’s pastoral cottage life, warm greens taking center stage, with the busy, bustling city in which the greens make way for a darker blue-gray and brick reds. Most of the townspeople present white, but Christov and a few others are slightly darker-skinned. The circumstances that separate Christov from his loved one go unexplored but open up possibilities for conversation.
This there-and-back-again tale is surely worth the ride. (Picture book. 4-8)