Oscar Seeks a Friend by Pawel Pawlak
Translated from Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
Lantana Publishing, 2019. Orig. 2015
Hardcover Picture Book, 40 pp.
Oscar believes that if he could find a tooth (to replace a recently missing one), he’d make a friend. He tells us that “It’s hard for a small, ugly skeleton to make friends. And with a tooth missing, I looked so dreadful that I thought I’d never, ever have anyone to play with except Tag.”
He discovers a little girl burying her recently lost tooth, “because if you bury a tooth, your dreams will come true.” And she proceeds to tell him her dream of finding a friend and all the things she and this friend would do. And as he tells us what she tells him, they proceed to do many of these things. You knew this was coming. What is unexpected is that she takes a turn joining Oscar in seeing places and doing activities important to him. It’s lovely.
That ending is even lovelier (and it doesn’t hurt that the two kind of reminding me of a young Jack and Sally of Nightmare Before Christmas fame).
The artwork is 3D paper collage, completed digitally. It adds immense visual interest and texture to charming effect—which is good for those textless pages. I love the presence of plant-life in both worlds; how fluid and obvious the story makes their boundaries. It seemed natural in both narration and illustration that the girl and Oscar would happen upon each other.
Oscar Seeks a Friend may be an obvious October read, but I think it’s a wonderful year-round option. It has a good story told in an unusual first person with an unusual style of illustration. It really is just a beautiful book.
images of book and interior pages via Lantana Publishing.