by Linda Ravin Lodding
illustrated by Alison Jay
Alfred A. Knopf, 2014. picture book
Oskar walks down a cobblestone street in Vienna looking for a birthday gift for his mama. He chooses a yellow flower from a vendor, but then an artist wants it for a painting he is doing. The artist gives the boy a paint brush in exchange. Then an orchestra conductor asks for the paint brush in exchange for some music. The boy keeps meeting people who want to exchange what they have for what he has. The goodhearted boy is willing to make the trades and ends up with the perfect gift for his mother at last. The author concludes the book with a note that explains that the people the boy meets in the story represent real historical figures from 19th century Vienna. Jay's crackled and light-filled illustrations suggest the optimism of Vienna in its gold age. As always Jay's illustrations include little details that will delight young readers.