Neil Gaiman writes books for everyone; even his children’s books are appealing to adults. This is one of them. He walks us through a fairy tale adventure that is short but important because it teaches how to get along in the world by treating others like we would want to be treated and trying to understand why other people behave the way they do. Most of all, the narrator reminds us to always have hope and believe in ourselves and our own value in the world. Animals follow on the journey and can be friendly or harmful, and sometimes need our help, which we should always give.
There are some very clever illustrations by Charles Vess, who has won several awards for his artwork in other books, including comics. A giant eagle with eyes full of wisdom carries the traveler and his cat companion through blurry yellow clouds, and a grayish brown fish that looks startlingly real allows the traveler to ride restfully against his fin as he swims, we imagine, very purposefully towards the traveler’s unknown destination. Vess has a website where he writes about how he designs a painting, and Gaiman’s site has podcasts and games based on his other books. They make a great creative team!