Letters to Anyone and Everyone
Toon Tellegen, illustrated by Jessica Ahlberg
More than twenty short tales each with an epistolary element and all written by a group of animals including elephant, snail, squirrel, ant, carp, bear and mole, are found between the covers of this delightfully quirky and unusual book translated from Toon Tellegen’s original Dutch by Martin Cleaver. You will find a fair number of cakes,
friends aplenty and some wonderful meditations on life itself. Whether or not, like the squirrel, you can convince yourself that it’s possible for a table to write a letter is your decision, but really it’s only a small step from accepting that an ant can attempt to write his memoirs.
It’s impossible to choose a favourite but I really loved the first – Elephant’s letter to Snail:
May I invite you to dance with
me on top of your house? Just a few
steps? That’s what I want most of all.
I promise I’ll dance very delicately,
so we won’t fall through your roof.
But of course, you can never
be really sure.
Snail responds and this eventually results in the two dancing together, to the pachyderm’s delight.
Others are more surreal and the book ends with all the animals coming together on the final day of the year and writing a very considered letter to the sun. And yes, in case you’re wondering, they do receive a reply.
Jessica Ahlberg’s delicate illustrations bring the letter writers to life and provide a perfect complement to the tone of the text.
This is a thoughtful book to savour and one that will appeal especially to those who enjoy reading something thoughtful with an edge of excitement.