Johnson has created new fantasy creatures, dwelfs which are half dwarf and half elf. Unlike the naughty creatures of folklore, these creatures are good and kind. They water flowers, plant acorns, and leave pennies for children to find. They pride themselves on helping others, all except Pobkin. He is like Robin Goodfellow or Puck of A Midsummer’s Night Dream by Shakespeare. He lets tied dogs loose so that they become lost. He eats the last cookie in a jar and lays the blame on the children. He puts knots in children’s hair while they’re sleeping. His parents are at a loss as to what to do about his thoughtless and mean tricks.
One evening he goes too far and cuts the hair of a little girl, Jenny, while she’s sleeping. Of course her parents blame her and she is heartbroken. At first, Pobkin doesn’t care but when he discovers his magical hat is missing, empathizes with her sense of loss. When his mother says, “Perhaps now you will understand that when bad, unexplained things happen to someone, it’s not the least bit funny!”
In his funk, he realizes that creating suffering isn’t funny. He returns to the little girl’s house and apologizes to Jenny. She accepts his apology with grace and forgiveness and returns his hat. As he leaves, he magically returns her long hair.
While this is a simple story, it is charming and told in an original manner. Empathy for others is such an important trait to develop in children. Using magical tricksters as the venue makes the message a little more palatable. This has become a favorite of my three-year-old granddaughter.
The illustrations are so endearing that I could envision them enlarged and posted on a nursery wall. The dwelfs fairly glow on the page. This is one of Johnson’s earliest books. It’s so exciting to find an author who can create both quality illustrations and interesting text. I look forward to checking out her more recent work and seeing how her skills in storytelling and illustration have developed.
Click here to read my interview with Cheryl Johnson.on August 17, 2016.
A copy of this book was generously donated by the author to my Little Free Library.