Author and Illustrator: Allen Say
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Picking up an Allen Say book is like dipping the hands into a big box of emotional stories. It always throws up a wonderful surprise. A surprise that would make one dig into their own emotional past. They are written in a easy manner that any one could relate to. The Bicycle Man reminds one of their own interesting episode in school; the Kamishibhai Man might remind one of our cultural background and how it keeps changing; Grandfather's Journey reminds one of the constant movement and transitory nature of immigrants all over.
The Lost Lake kept reminding me of the fact that being a father is time consuming and there are no easy ways of parenting. It is a struggle that will ultimately reward if the father is patient enough.
A kid joins his father for summer holidays. It is obvious that the family is separated. His father is busy with his work and hardly has any time for the kid. The kid spends away his time watching television and ultimately being bored takes to collecting nature photographs from old magazines. This kindles an interest in father and he decides to take the kid on a trek to the lost lake (a lake that his father took him to when he was young). When they reach the lost lake, it is overflowing with people. The father sarcastically remarks that it is the 'Found Lake' now. The father and son do not stop and continue trekking in search of their own 'Lost Lake'.
It is obvious that the lost lake is an allegory for establishing a bond between the father and son. From a personal side, there are times when I find that it is not easy to start a conversation with my son. If we need to get into a conversation, it requires time and effort. Just the act of being around seem to stimulate conversation between us. I cannot ask him to tell him what happened in the school after I reach home after 9 pm. It would usually be a simple grunt or "it was fine" answer. But, If I was around with him the whole day, by evening there is a breaking of ice and we converse as if we are the best of friends.
It is surprising how similar this book's episode mirrors the real world. It clearly indicates that father needs to spend time and only then does the kid open up to find their own private space - A space where only the father and kid can inhabit and be happy with one another.
The book is interspersed with some wonderful dialogues between father and son. See this one for example -
"You know something, Dad? You seem a like a different person up here"
"Better or worse?"
"A lot better."
"You talk more".
The illustrations are water colors based and are typical Allen Say style. This is one of the books of Allen Say where I was more impressed with the text than the illustrations. His illustrations in GrandFather's Journey are gorgeous, this book pales in comparison to it. But, the combination of text and illustration in this book makes one wonder how some of these masters of children's literature make something that is tough, look so easy and simple.