Eons ago, my librarian friend Chris introduced me to David Almond's work. As I recall, it went something like this, "I'd like you to read this and tell me what you think." Then she handed me "Skellig." It was Almond's first work for children. I thought it was wonderful.
Now it's 2014, and the world of children's literature has changed along with the century. Ebooks and graphic novels are front and center stage.
Almond has adapted with the times. His graphic novel "Mouse, Bird, Snake, Wolf" is evidence of that. Fortunately, the format seems to compliment Almond's unique style of thinking and writing. Bright colors and comic book-like drawings and divisions of page easily lead the reader through this alternate world.
In "Mouse, Bird, Snake, Wolf," the world is very much like our own but not our own. In this alternate world, creation is at a standstill. That world's gods have grown fat and lazy. Instead of watching over their creation, they lie about congratulating each other on what marvelous work they've done. Everything is fine but stagnant.
Luckily, the gods have thought to create children. Three in particular, two boys and one girl, wander about enjoying themselves, quite closely resembling their gods.
The oldest two lie down to rest one day, but the youngest is restless. He wonders if the world isn't missing something. Yes, he's certain the world needs a "funny little squeaky, scampery thing." His elders roll their eyes, but that doesn't prevent him from attempting a god-like act while the gods aren't looking.
What happens then? Well, I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise. Almond works his magic, weaving us an improbable and thought provoking tale all the while delighting us along the way.
"Mouse, Bird, Snake Wolf" is well worth the read, as was "Skellig." I suspect Chris knew all along I'd be hooked on Almond. Fine! It's true! I hope she's happy. Really, I do.
Ruth Siburt is the author of more than a dozen children's books in the educational field.