The title of this German import, translated by Sally-Ann Spencer, may be a play on the title of the classic absurdist theatre piece Waiting for Godot, but unlike the play, there’s nothing existentially mind-bending about this sweet, endearing story of two friends.
Antje Damm’s Waiting for Goliath tells the story of Bear, waiting patiently on a park bench for his buddy. Goliath is his best friend, and as he waits for him, Bear tells Robin, a bird in a nearby tree, all about how wonderful his friend is. Time passes—suddenly, Robin has a nest of baby birds—and she doubts that Bear’s friend is coming. But loyalty is the name of the game here: Bear has no doubts his friend will show.
Winter comes, and sometimes Bear even forgets he’s waiting. He eventually succumbs to sleep in the falling snow, right in front of the park bench. When he wakes, he hears a “faint noise like a hand sliding slowly across paper.” Goliath has arrived, and Goliath is a snail. True-blue friends wait patiently for one another after all, even when one friend’s arrival takes extra effort and time.
Damm’s 3-D paper vignette illustrations are textured and brightly colored with rich reds, vivid greens, deep browns and occasional bright blues. Children will enjoy the details that show time passing; the pacing here is just right. The art is especially empowering: Creative children may be inspired to cut up their own cardboard and pull out the paints to tell their own stories of friendship.
Waiting was never so fun.
Julie Danielson features authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children’s literature blog.