The Book to Take Us Home

By Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

Cover of Stormy features a small, curly-haired dog and his ball created in soft hues with pencil and watercolorIt’s the end of 2020, and what a journey we have all been on! In many ways, it has felt like we were lost and far from home even as many of us spent much more time than normal at home. There was also a sense of not knowing where we would land for some, and–for some others–whom to trust. Thus, the sweet and wordless picturebook Stormy (2019) by Chinese author/illustrator Guojing will resonate with many readers on both a surface level and more metaphorically. Even the title let’s us think in metaphorical ways about the last year!

A puppy in the park, no companion of either animal or human type. Enter a young woman who attempts to befriend the pup, but he’s having nothing to do with that. After many attempts and patience, the puppy approaches, and a tenuous bond is forged. But the puppy is still cautious. Who knows how he arrived at the park and what he experienced prior to meeting this new human? The puppy’s caution remains until a storm rages and the two realize the strength of their bond and from then on, the puppy is no longer a nameless, homeless dog in the part, but Stormy, who has found a forever home.

The illustrations clearly tell the story, and are of rendered in soft colors suggesting a calm and gentle sense of being. Exactly what is needed for engendering a sense of care and comfort. This is a wonderful lap book to explore with the very young, and a great book to use with older readers on a metaphorical level, as I cannot help but do at this time in our year, and in our history.

This is a delightful and beautiful story on which to end the year. It has important lessons for all of us, especially those who may have started to question who to trust, and those who remain cautious to the strangeness that has entered our world. Patience, perseverance, and kindness can build bonds. They can also remind us that they are the way back to or the way forward to our “forever” home.

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