South by Patrick McDonnell is hands down, a book that should be on every child’s bookshelf. It is a quiet and powerful tale of friendship with beautiful illustrations.
McDonnell is well known for his cartoon illustrations of Mutts and The Gift of Nothing. I was unfamiliar with him but picked up this picture book, South, on a recommendation.
It is just perfect and nostalgic, all at once. The book has no words (save for the sign declaring South).
The plot line is that the character Mooch the cat helps a lost bird. The illustrations begin with a flock of singing birds flying away and one sleeping bird gets left behind. Mooch discovers the bird and and points the way south, when the bird wonders why she is alone.
Mooch holds out his paw and takes the sad bird down the street, through the city and into the snowing woods. Finally, they hear the song of the rest of the birds and find them resting on a telephone poll. The bird hugs Mooch and flies off with her family, while Mooch goes home to sleep by the fire.
I soaked up the sweet story of this book and thought it had a great message for adults and children. I loved how words were not necessary to tell the story. I think it would work very well with children to a) help them absorb the meaning of the story from illustrations alone and b) really encourage their creativity by listening to their own versions of the story. Pick this one up for any child, it is a great work!
Sometimes it takes a friend to help you find your way.