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Thursday, November 15, 2018

Door, by JiHyeon Lee. Chronicle, Raincoast. 2018. $25.99 ages 4 and up

"What's on the
other side of the

There's only one
way to find out:

you'll have to go
through it."

An antique key, a tiny flying bug, and an inquisitive boy - all that is needed to begin a journey. Walls and doors hold special appeal for most of us; for little ones, who have few fears, they are an invitation to experience something brand new. The boy in this book does exactly what we might expect of him.

Key in hand, he walks through a drab and colorless world, awash with apprehensive, gloomy people. The door looks unused, with numerous spider webs providing cover. Not to be deterred, the boy walks through it and into a world of ever-increasing color - and welcome. As he walks and meets the inhabitants of this unfamiliar world, he begins to smile. There is great variety in their appearance and he has no knowledge of the language they speak. He knows only that he is happy and comforted.

As he wanders, he is greeted with friendly smiles. The creatures' company is refreshing. He happily follows where they lead - from swings to tree branches, and finally to an open space with a collection of many doors that lead to new adventures. One of the doors opens to a wedding, and the party that follows: a delicious feast, some dancing and a group photograph. Finally, the key he does not know he lost is returned. The time to leave this fantasy world has come. But, why close and lock the door?

As she did in her earlier book, Pool (Chronicle, 2015), Ms. Lee creates a world of imagination and good will. The illustrations, in pencil, are full of fun, innocence, magic, and understanding. It is worth celebrating.

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