There are probably thousands of children’s books that touch on the theme of friendship, but seldom is it defined as simply and clearly as Oliver Jeffers has done with the wonderful illustrations and metaphor-rich text in this book, which quietly hits close to the heart.
It’s hard to define friendships in this digital world that we’re living in, where people no longer need to meet face-to-face or even chat on the phone to keep in touch, and a Whatsapp/Facebook message seems to suffice for most purposes. Do people whom you have not met or communicated with for the last 10 years, but whom you’re still ostensibly ‘friending’ on Facebook, still count as friends, or are they basically vaguely familiar strangers? Conversely, do Instagram or blog followers, with whom you share your thoughts and/or mundane details of your life every day but whom you’ve never met, count as friends then?
In order to get to the heart of what makes a friend, perhaps we should turn to children, for whom friendship is still pure and untainted by politics and ulterior motives: to them, if someone plays with you, he/she is a friend; ditto someone who is willing to share a biscuit with you. And, really, if you think about it, friendship is really that simple: two people who enjoy spending time together, and have each other’s well-being and happiness at heart. But I digress.
Lost and Found is a sweet tale about a boy finding an ostensibly lost penguin at his doorstep and embarking on a personal quest to help it find its way back home — which culminates in a harrowing boat ride all the way to the South Pole. Alas, when they finally arrive at their destination, the boy realises that he had misunderstood the penguin, and that all it really wanted was a friend.
After all, a friend is someone who anchors us and makes us feel less adrift — or lost — and less alone in the world.