Skip by Molly Mendoza
Bloom is a young person who lives with their friend Bee. Bee takes care of Bloom. They fish and collect eggs by the lake that is their home. But this seemingly idyllic life masks the reality that the world around them has suffered a catastrophe and humanity is in danger. Bloom is just a child, but Bee knows their danger, and that they need to find others, they cannot continue alone. When they hear a distress call Bee decides to assist. Bloom must stay behind alone, just for a while hopefully.
But Bee has one last gift for Bloom and that gift will end their solitary life. Bloom can be self-sufficient, can survive, but to live Bloom will need to go on a journey.
Bloom finds himself stranded in another world, where he makes a friend called Gloopy. Gloopy is a wonderful creation who reminded me of more than one person I know. Gloopy is a cheerful and optimistic being but can also be careless and thoughtless. Gloopy desperately wants to be part of the gang but they find themselves shunned.
The way they look at me…it’s unbearable. I wish I could just disappear.Gloopy
The unlikely duo set off. Gloopy to find adventure and Bloom to try to find the way home – skipping through worlds.
The narrative construction in Skip is skillfully done. When undertaking such complex and multi-layered world building it would be easy to rely on exposition. Instead we imply a wider reality from the discussions between Bee and Bloom.
Listen, I am just going to check things out. Who knows, maybe there’s a new home for us out there, with other people.Bee
Skip is a sensory work. We travel through worlds experiencing moods and cultures through pattern and colour. Bold, swirling colours seize us and drag us forward, like Bloom is dragged through the hole and away from the lake. Clashing, contrasting hues bring to mind the colours of the Fauvists but with the free expressionist brush strokes. At one point the adventurers find themselves in an art gallery, but their whole adventure is an art gallery.
New worlds have their own distinct palette, from a yellow and blue dimension which sees the two friends stalked by a cat, to a purple and turquoise dimension populated by sentient crocodilians. Colours are not naturalistic but evoke a mood or feeling.
I’m not sure what the digital edition is like, but the published edition seems made for paper – and the book is printed on lovely creamy matte paper. The colours are rich but also soft and subtle. This is a work that is best experienced in print.
Let’s live a little! Who knows when this journey will end.Gloopy
The overall story could easily veer into sentimentality but generally stays on the right side of twee with a needed hint of danger and even menace. The fears of Gloopy and Bloom are ones that are easily identifiable – fear of failure, fear of loss and the fear of being way out of our comfort zone.
I hesitate to say that Skip is aimed at a younger age group, although that is how it is categorized. I think it would be welcomed as a story to be read to a wee one at bedtime as well as read by older kids. However there is a huge amount for all ages to enjoy in the book – most especially the lush artwork which adults and children alike will be captivated by.
I can imagine kids checking Skip out from their local library and being captivated. Skip is a warm and beautiful book and will spark imaginations for years to come.
Skip is published by NoBrow
Molly Mendoza can be found on her website.