“Oh, let’s do it!” say Kitty and Katy and Mum when a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle mysteriously arrives in the post.
“I have time on my hands,” agrees Dad. Starting in winter with the edges, by autumn they’re almost done, only to discover that one piece is missing.
Mum is sure that it must have accidentally gone out with the rubbish, so the Kellys pile into the car to comb through the local tip (“shouldn’t take long”).
There they uncover forgotten letters, train tickets, discarded newspapers, and old photos yellow with age, but finding the missing piece is starting to seem like wishful thinking.
“Let’s wish, then,” says Katy. As in all of Bob Graham’s work, the beauty here is in the details, with visual perspectives that offer a bird’s-eye view or take us underfoot, wordless sequences letting us in on a secret.
Is it sheer luck – or perhaps the power of hope – that creates an ending to the story?
The Kelly family embraces a mysterious puzzle anonymously sent to them in the post. The subplot narrates how a puzzle piece falls to the ground and goes missing while the family undertakes the long project of completing the puzzle. These parallel storylines continue throughout the book. Serendipitously, their threads do cross paths, and the reader is privy to this, while the characters are not. Themes of family, the generosity of strangers, persistence, hope, determination and serendipity are explored. Beautiful illustrations vary from small vignettes, time-lapse, and full-page double spreads. The use of framing and white backgrounds help to focus attention and are used to effect, while the language is simple and economical, yet magical. The mystery of time, and the slowness of its passage, are beautifully mirrored through the almost tragic journey that the puzzle piece takes to ‘the end of the world’, as it were. Without being didactic, Bob Graham shows that we may discover lost things, and enable things of value to return to consciousness when we have the courage to look into dark places and acknowledge our own flawed human nature.