Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Rosie and Rasmus by Serena Geddes

This sweet story about a lonely girl making friends starts out well, but I didn't care for the ending.

Rosie, a white girl in an old-fashioned village, is shy. She stands back as kids walk by in pairs and triples, fly kites, and play around the fountain. Outside the village is Rasmus, a pudgy green dragon with no wings. Rosie wishes the other kids would see her. Rasmus wishes he could fly. When Rosie wanders under his tree, he gives her a flower and they become friends, sharing their favorite things with each other. But when Rosie sees how sad Rasmus is that he can't fly, she sets out to find a way to help him. She tries many plans, but it's not until she gives him goggles and a scarf that he finally grows wings and can fly! The friends say a sad goodbye and Rosie is left alone again, this time with a flower to remember Rasmus by... until she sees another shy girl and offers her the flower, starting a new friendship.

The soft, pastel art is very enticing for readers who like fantasy and warm fuzzy feelings. Most of the kids pictured appear to be white, and the small village is very picturesque with a blue sea in the distance and no cars or machinery in evidence, although the kids wear modern clothes as they freely run across the cobbles of the main square.

On the one hand, most kids will just see this as a cute story about a dragon. On the other hand, several things about the ending especially bothered me. Rosie and Rasmus originally become friends because Rasmus makes an overture to her and they're both lonely. But their friendship quickly devolves into Rosie's efforts to "fix" Rasmus and help him fly and in the end he spontaneously sprouts wings. That feels like a weird call back to books like Heidi where the kids are friends with the "poor cripple" and they just magically lose their disability. There's no reason given for Rasmus having to leave - maybe he was imaginary all the time? On the other hand, there's also kind of an implication that he doesn't fit into their perfect little world in the village. I also noticed that the solitary girl Rosie makes friends with wasn't there in the first place - so maybe it isn't just that she needs to make overtures, but that she has to wait for the right time and the right person.

Verdict: Kids probably won't pick up on all the things that confused/bothered me as an adult, so ultimately it's a sweet book with a nice message about making overtures to make friends. I would say it's an additional purchase.

ISBN: 9781481498746; Published April 2019 by Aladdin; F&G provided by publisher

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