Hello Hello by Brendan Wenzel is yet another marvelously, magically beautiful picture book bursting with beasts from this talented author and illustrator. In 2016, Wenzel's They All Saw a Cat enchanted and engaged readers (and earned a well deserved Caldecott Honor). Wenzel's follow up, Hello Hello, reads like a companion, or really like a best buddy, to They All Saw a Cat.
Hello Hello begins, "Hello Hello," with a white cat on the recto looking at a black cat on the verso, a Mona Lisa smile on its face. What follows is a playful rhyme that introduces animals, alike and different, to each other, culminating with a girl and a boy, hugging and smiling at an orangutan and a lemur, and the verse, "A world to see, a world to know. Where to begin? Hello Hello." As this lyrical text wanders through the animal kingdom, Wenzel makes the point that all life is connected in its glorious beauty, its similarities and differences.
Set on a white page, Wenzel's illustrations are bright and bursting with color, painterly and collage-like at the same time. He has been compared to Eric Carle and, while I definitely agree with this (and am sure he will have a career that is equally lasting and meaningful) I also think that Wenzel brings something new and exciting to the page. There is a playfulness to his characters that is a little goofy and kind of kooky and completely endearing. This spirit comes through in Wenzel's writing as well. He ends Hello Hello with an author's note letting readers know that they have just said hello to some of his favorite animals, many of which are extinct. He then encourages readers to help change this by finding out more about extinct animals:
Head to the library, go on the internet, and share your interest and enthusiasm with everyone you know. You could even write a letter to one of the incredible conservationists working to protect them and keep the places they live safe. The more that people know about these creatures, the better the chance they will share this planet with us for many years to come.
It starts with saying hello.
Four pages of backmatter list all 92 of the animals in order of appearance, their name and their status. Hello Hello is a book that readers will pore over and ask to read (or have read to them) again and again.
More by Brendan Wenzel!
Source: Review Copy