Welcome Home – Jaime Vicente

5 out of 5

This is a kid’s picture book from Sallybooks that we’ll be glad is solely a picture book, as the imprint’s translations have not proven to be the best, and the small blurb on the back cover of Welcome Home (“After a warm welcoming sure the kitten feels happy with her new family.”) suggests that would have carried over here.

What’s the point of Welcome Home?  Dunno.  I was worried it would be some claptrap about bonding families, with some forced drama over a lost pet – Dad brings home a new kitten for daughter, joining the crew of cat, dog, bird, and fish already belonging to various housemates – as we spend a little bit of time bouncing around with the new cat / kid pair as they interact with grandpa and his dog, brother and hit cat, etc.  But, nah, that sequence is a standalone: enjoy your animal, enjoy hanging out with other people’s animals, and that’s that.  Then, the book opens up when it’s nighttime, and the kitten explores the house to discover… what the animals all get up to when dumb humans aren’t around.  Creator / artist Jaime Vicente’s stiff, simple style works really well for this, capturing a sort of base emotional state of joy for each critter, and because each successive page instills that there’s not going to be a plot beyond just following the animals around, you don’t really know where things are going, and it made some of the interactions very, very pleasing.

Picture books are tough to make them feel “worth it,” content-wise, but Vicente achieved that, telling a mini-story while also offering a perfect example of my favorite type of kid’s book: one that’s not prepackaged with overt, force-fed “values.”  Beyond, like, animals are cool.