ANTON AND ROSITA: ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME
Kirkus Reviews, USA
On oddly captivating debut picture book with pockets of quiet beauty.
A raccoon named Anton has a feeling that today is going to be a very special day, and it inspires him to set off on his motorbike to look for adventure.
He follows his nose and finds his dear friend Rosita, a leopard, baking raisin buns. She hops on his bike with him, and off they go.
After a while, an old cliché inspires the pair to take their adventure even farther:
“ ‘There’s a saying that all roads lead to Rome,’ Rosita says.”
With a childlike sense of possibility, they set off to find out whether the old saying is true. Their particular road instead takes them up a mountain to a “snowdrift,” and into the welcoming, generous company of polar bear named Garibaldi and gannet named Sulejma.
A sled ride and an accidental train trip lead Anton and Rosita back to the place they left Anton’s bike. The story is almost dreamlike in its sparseness, and Peder Skytte tells the tale with his illustrations as much as his text. His watercolors are expressive, quirky and detailed, and they create a rich, full world.
The raisin buns are a recurring, reassuring presence in nearly every scene, like a symbol of safety and home, and as Anton and Rosita eat them on the hillside, they look out to see a tractor plowing on a distant farm. Later, Garibaldi’s igloo features a little drawing of an ice cream cone on the wall.
In the wintry scenes, Peder Skyttes talents really come alive, with a sureness of color and line that some other illustrations are missing.
Although Anton and especially Rosita are awkwardly shaped, Garibaldi the polar bear has a handsome, fluid look, and Peder Skyttes painting of him riding a sled down an impossibly steep mountain, mirroring the slope with his nose, may be tempting to frame.
A children’s story full of gentle love and adventure that’s a pleasure to read and explore.