I saw Pete and Pete saw Me
Maggie Hutchings (author) and Evie Barrow (illustrator)
Affirm Press: 2020
Reviewed by Viv Young
A young child notices a homeless man named Pete and they connect through chalk drawings.
I saw Pete and Pete saw Me explores the wonderful gift children have for seeing people without prejudice. It portrays moments of connection between Pete and the young child narrator, before Pete’s situation results in sickness as the weather turns cold. The ending is ultimately optimistic, but the difficulty and injustice of Pete’s circumstances are made clear, often through the stark if simple speech of the child character.
The artwork for I saw Pete and Pete saw Me uses pencil markings to great effect, capturing for example the scruffiness of Pete and his dog as well as the young child’s scribbled drawing of a house. Several pages contain vignettes that allow readers to perceive the different (and kind) interactions that Pete has with others in the community and the use of dark tones helps convey the child’s deep sense of concern for Pete. The overall palette is, however, light and bright, moreover, the symbolic use of yellow underscores the hopeful message which stays with the reader long after you’ve turned the last page.
This is a poignant read and one worth exploring with any child ready to ask questions about the homelessness they see around them.