Review posted January 18, 2023.
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2022. 32 pages.
Review written December 23, 2022, from a library book
2022 Sonderbooks Standout:
#1 Silly Fun Picture Books
Oh, this book is exactly what I love in a picture! A sweet story full of surprises with a great message and a twist at the end. This is one of those picture books that makes me sad I'm not doing storytimes any more.
The main character is Hakim, a donkey. He reminds me of Sylvester, from Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. The beginning pages set the stage:
It's hard to knit a sweater with your hooves,
but Hakim somehow did it.
It was a present for his friend Daisy,
who lived on top of the mountain.
He packed the sweater in his saddlebag.
"She'll love it," he thought. "It gets cold up there."
It was a foggy morning.
Hakim could barely see the end of his nose.
Then Hakim starts encountering others on the narrow, winding trail. The first one appears out of nowhere and warns Hakim to turn around because there are monsters up the mountain!
And then Hakim starts seeing frightening shapes in the fog. But when he gets closer, they turn out to be other frightened travelers. My favorite one is the shape like a screaming skull that turns out to be a bear on a runaway tricycle.
Each animal Hakim encounters ends up joining the group climbing the mountain, with help carrying things in Hakim's saddlebags. The last shape in the fog they encounter ends up being a wonderful surprise.
At the end, Hakim gives his friend her present and the other animals go on their way in the sunshine on the other side of the mountain.
But I love Hakim's wise words first:
"Everything looks like a monster in the fog," said Hakim.
"But the closer you get, the less scary it becomes."
This is a picture book that's destined to become a classic.