The Trip
by Sharmagne Leland-St. John
Illustrated by Melissa Bergemeier
20 pages
Price: $20.00 plus $3.80 S & H
Publisher: Cyberwit Press
ISBN: 978-93-90202-97-3

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Reviewed by Michael Escoubas

Possibly the most popular and effective story-telling technique is the “journey.” Poet Sharmagne Leland-St. John in collaboration with artist Melissa Bergemeier, exploit the journey motif in a delightful story about a mouse and a boy.

Since your reviewer’s name is Michael, I fit right in because, to my delight, both protagonists bear the same name!

The mouse’s name was Michael
        Just the same as mine
Mike and I became fast friends
        We hit it off just fine

The story opens with Mike suddenly appearing (as characters often do in fantasies) perched innocently on Michael’s bedroom window sill. His little tail is curled into a backward letter “C”. Michael, of course, has just become aware of his new friend’s presence.

        A little furry mouse
Crept ′cross my window sill

An oil lamp is lit giving the room an eerie glow, the curly-haired boy is smiling, neither startled nor afraid.

I sat up in my tiny bed
        And bid the mouse “Hello”
He said, “I’m off to see the world
        Would you care to go?

And with that, the boy and mouse are on their way. Since The Trip takes place at night, Bergemeier’s pictures create an aura of mystery shrouded in lovely colors and shadows that highlight the principle characters but do not intrude on the saga of mouse and boy living out their dream.

What makes the illustrations and story unique is the setting. It all takes place in Victorian England. With location in mind, I enjoyed Bergemeier’s depictions of manicured lawns, landscaping, wrought iron fencing, a graveyard, stately buildings and iconic Big Ben.

With their journey just picking up a good head of steam:

Mike and I took shelter
        Beneath a big oak tree
And built a ship to carry us
        Across the rainy sea

In one of my favorite scenes, the mouse takes Michael’s handkerchief, makes a “sail of white,” it fills with wind, billows out and sails, “Against the starless night.”

Where the two intrepid explorers go from here is an adventure well worth the time it takes to share the beauty of art and poetry with those you love. By the way, you won’t want to miss the ending of this wonderfully crafted poetic journey . . . it has to do with shinnying up a drainpipe. See you there!!


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