If you follow Buddhist teachings or have a Buddhist friend or family member, then you are no stranger to the concept of impermanence: that no thing lasts forever. But for children, with less life experience, the idea requires special care to convey, for after all, it means the loss of cherished as well as dreaded things. Beatrice Alemagna, who both wrote and illustrated this book, has just the right touch for sharing such a truth.
Alemagna's earlier work as a poster artist shines through in her charming, energetic illustrations. They're a perfect complement for the book's genius design. Transparencies with simple black marks separate each pair of pages, performing a magical job of transforming one thing into another. A spotted bird who has alighted upon a child's finger flies away when the transparency page is turned; as sleep departs, closed eyes open; and, thank goodness, those lice in a child's hair also vanish with the flip of a transparency.
The lice are one example of the book's humor (the expression on the child's face is priceless) and honesty, which goes well with its more ephemeral aspect. Tears dry; music flies away; and dark thoughts fade. What doesn't fade is the fun of turning the pages and seeing the changes right before your eyes. And what also doesn't fade is the love behind the hug with which Alemagna wisely ends the book.
Designed for 4 - 8 year olds, this is another one of those books that could be a gift to anyone of any age. We all struggle with our brooms as the dust disappears yet keeps coming back; we all have reason to be astonished when a small wound disappears without leaving a trace. And we all have reason to be smitten by such winning characters, never named in the book yet coming through full-blown by virtue of Alemagna's artistic acuity.