It’s so wonderful to see two visual thinkers collaborate on a project; something special happens during the process and Side by Side is a perfect example of that unity. Rachel Bright’s use of language is upbeat and tender. Small children adore rhyme, and it’s such an accessible way to hear this lovely story about the search for friendship. Most readers will identify with the character, Mouseling, who often gets left out of things because she’s SO small. Finding a friend seems an impossibility until Mouseling meets a little black vole who says things like, ‘Shall we dance ourselves happy? What do you think?’ Someone who speaks like that is bound to be a hit, so sure enough, a few pages along, the two characters are sharing snacks, holding paws and entwining tails. ‘Birds of a feather … whatever the weather.’ Gorgeous.
Debi Gliori’s illustrations perfectly match the text; hand-executed in watercolour and ink, we are drawn into a world of contrasts. Night and day, togetherness, aloneness, happiness and sorrow; all conveyed with dramatic palette choices and wonderful composition. Mostly playful, sometimes fearful, Gliori portrays Bright’s story wonderfully.
Side by Side is a book to be read aloud at bedtime and returned to night after night.