For readers in search of a soft spot to land, look no further than Kate Banks and Galia Bernstein’s Lost and Found.
When a mouse and a rabbit find a rag doll left behind in the forest, more furry creatures soon arrive one by one to investigate. Inquisitive but unafraid, the friends follow their curiosity to find where the doll came from so they can return it home. They journey together through the woods, tracking their only clue: footsteps left in the dirt, leading to a new and unfamiliar place . . .
Lost and Found feels both freshly original and like a cherished, well-worn tale. Many scenes juxtapose the familiar and the unfamiliar, as when the animals come to a “wide stretch of gray.” “The animals knew the forest trails thickly carpeted with leaves,” Banks writes. “But they’d never seen a road.” Readers will hear echoes of Margery Williams’ The Velveteen Rabbit and Don Freeman’s Corduroy in Banks’ text, and the band of talking animals on a mission feels warmly reminiscent of A.A. Milne’s beloved characters. Although sincere forest creatures are a children’s literature standard, it’s this same familiarity that makes Lost and Found an easy book to adore.
Bernstein’s critters’ soft fur and big eyes convey a sweet naivete and gentleness that’s instantly lovable. A forest of serene green grass and trees makes the reader feel welcome and at ease in this warm, thriving world. Bernstein leaves enough white space in her double-page spreads to ensure that her artwork is not overly cluttered. Although every page is beautifully drawn, one particular image, in which the animals are backlit by a sunset, stands out. You’ll know it when you get there, and it’s worth pausing to admire.
Earnest and peaceful, Lost and Found is as safe and lovely as they come. It’s perfect for the quiet hush of bedtime or any situation in need of a cozy touch and a soft snuggle. Banks and Bernstein have created a wonderful tribute to the power of love and the home we carry within ourselves. Their sweet, not-so-dangerous adventure story ends like all the best adventures do: as we find our way home.