Little Echo lives in a cave. She’s bright yellow, has big ears so she can listen to the smallest sound and spends her time hiding. She’d like to play with the other creatures, but she’s too shy.
One day Max arrives and announces his intention to find treasure. Entranced by the idea, Little Echo follows him. Max isn’t too sure which way to hold his map (and doesn’t know where to dig) so Little Echo tries to help, but all she can do is echo Max’s voice. It takes danger in the shape of an angry bear to prompt change.
Little Echo’s anxiety for Max overcomes her fear. For the very first time she speaks for herself – ‘RUN!’ – and so begins a partnership between two unlikely comrades. Saturated oranges and yellows stand out against the deep blues and greys of the cave, and light from Max’s torch or fire directs our gaze. A big X on the map leads to all sorts of adventures, but it isn’t until friendship seems more important than anything that the two of them find treasure.
Little Echo is an unusual and highly appealing character, and the messages in this story are well framed and explored. We all need courage to speak up, and true friendship is worth more than gold. But it’s Al Rodin’s striking artwork that takes this book to another level. Full of joie de vivre and painted with bold, expressive brushstrokes and a strong eye for shape and heft, his illustrations have a confidence and freshness that feel completely new. In keeping with the subject, though, they also evoke memories – of the games we’ve played, the books we’ve read – in a way that draws us close and suggests that Little Echo will be loved.