Review: The Hideout by Susanna Mattiangeli. Illustrated by Felicita Sala.
‘It’s time to go,’ cried a voice, but nobody can find Hannah. That’s because Hannah has chosen to remain in the park. There’s just too much to do – collecting lost things and shooting at birds with her slingshot and drinking from the fountain. Hannah finds a home in the shrubs, makes a cape out of feathers and a bed out of leaves and befriends the Odd Furry Creature. Together they live, the tangled wilderness closing them off from the rest of the world until Hannah hears another call.
A lyrical tale that will delight anybody who has ever hidden in the trees because it is too early to go home.
I remember being that child. My sister and I had found a hideout miles and miles from the rest of the park. We’d set up camp, certain that nobody would ever find us. When I revisited that park in my early 20s, I was stunned to find out that it was quite small. In my memories, it was a vast space, with a patch of trees the size of a small forest. That is what The Hideout captures so beautifully – that sense of exploration and wonder which can only belong to a small child.
It also shows us that wild spaces can be found not so far from our ordinary lives. The park bustles with human activity, but just to the side are the shrubs and trees, and anything could be hidden between their branches. The Odd Furry Creature is metaphorical of any natural life which lives just within our sight.
Felicita Sala is one of my top current-day illustrators. Her work is ethereal without being scary or strange. It feels to me like she finds the peace and wonder within the unknown, as she does in The Hideout when Hannah dresses in a cape of feathers. I especially love the colour palette of this book with its lilacs and olives and soft greens and blues.
A modern-day fairy tale which reminds us of the magic of nature, and of the joys we can find in, ever so briefly, taking time away from the busy world.
Thanks to Abrams and Chronicle for my copy of The Hideout. Opinions my own.