Cover Image: The Thing at 52

The Thing at 52

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Member Reviews

I got this at Netgalley in exchange for an honest review!

What a sweet, cute and absolutely sad picture-book! Seeing the main character and the Thing interact and be such great friends was so heartwarming to see, and I loved how she made such a great impact on its life, but also how it turned out that the Thing also did the same to her! Broke my heart but in a good way! Definitely recommend!
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I received an advance reader copy of this book to read in exchange for an honest review via netgalley and the publishers.

The Thing at 52 is an adorable picture book for children with a very important message told in such a simple but effective way. The little girl in the story becomes friends with the thing at 52 after walking past its home every day and seeing it always alone. The girl throws the Thing a party, but after the party, the Thing grows old and blows away in the wind, teaching the girl that all things have to go/come to an end one day. This book teaches about life, friendship, compassion, kindness, and empathy, and I loved every second of it. It even brought a tear to my eye!
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A couple of standard picture book elements combine here. We have the weird creature that everyone fears because the don't understand it. A little understanding proves that it is pleasant and friendly. Fear is based in ignorance, etc. Then the Thing flies away, turning the plot into an exploration of grief. Heartfelt.
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This book teaches children so much about life in such a lovely way. It is very real but also emphasises the positives of life and how important making friends is. It is beautifully illustrated.
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Thus was such a simple book with a powerful message about friendship and kindness. One little girl made a difference to so many 'Things' .  We can learn a lot from her.
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Gorgeous illustrations are paired with an affecting story of a lonely creature and a girl who befriends him.

The colours and mood are soft as we see the friendship develop between the two beings. Then, the Thing leaves, and though there is sadness because one friend was gone, the ending is hopeful because the girl had made many more friends through reaching out to the lonely neighbour. 

I love the theme of friendship, and how integral the girl's mother was in helping the girl forge the first friendship. 

I felt a little like there were one or two panels missing in the story, showing how the girl coped with the loss of her friend the Thing, and how her life later opened up to include many more friends. Other than that, it's a sweet little story about making connections and change.

Thank you to Netgalley and to Quarto Publishing - Frances Lincoln Children's Books for this ARC in exchange for my review.
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“There’s a Thing on my street. He lives at number 52.”

The narrator is a young child, maybe ten or twelve, who walks to school every day past the Thing’s house. In the first picture we can see a big, soft, grey shape in a garden, and on the crosswalk at the very edge of the page is the child and the mother.

My Goodreads review shows an illustration with the caption:
“I see him sitting in his front yard when I walk to school.”

The child is worried. The thing seems to be all alone at home and when out shopping.

“I don’t think he has any friends.”

And that’s where a lot of us would leave it, right? We’d say what a pity, and go about our lives. Not this youngster. They ask ‘Mom’ if they could buy the Thing a flower. It was a hit!

My Goodreads review shows an illustration with the caption:
“ ‘Come inside,’ he said. ‘I was just about to have a cup of gravy.’ ”

In the picture, we can just see mom outside the gate, letting the child and the Thing get acquainted, but keeping an eye on the interaction. Not only a cup of gravy is on the menu, but the Thing has a fridge full of jars of mustard!

My Goodreads review shows an illustration with the caption:
“ ‘Don’t you get lonely living by yourself?’ I asked him.
‘All things are lonely sometimes,’ said the Thing.”

Children don’t like lonely, so this kid starts to visit, sit outside, go on the train, take excursions with the Thing. Mom doesn’t seem to be along on these outings. One day, as they’re sitting out in the open somewhere, they look up.

High in the sky, another Thing is floating!

My Goodreads review shows an illustration with the caption:
“ ‘Where is it going?’” I asked.
‘Who knows?’ said the Thing.
‘But all Things have to go sometime.’”

The child asks if there are more Things in the world. Of course. Hundreds! That sparks an idea, so the child writes out invitations, Mom makes the Thing have a bath, and the party is on! All the Things have tiny hats, and Mom is rocking out in the top left corner, too.

My Goodreads review shows an illustration with the caption:
“The Things danced till midnight and drank all the gravy.”

It was a great success. They wander outside to sit under the stars and the Thing says thank you for the party. The child wants to plan one for next year, okay?

My Goodreads review shows an illustration with the caption:
“But the Thing didn’t say anything.
Suddenly he looked very old.
And then I realized what was happening.
‘No,’ I said.
‘All things have to go sometime,’ said the Thing sadly.”

My Goodreads review shows an illustration with the caption:
“The Thing hugged me. The wind blew through the trees, and he was gone.”

That is the Thing’s tiny hat sitting near the feet of the child. Unbelievably sad.

Life goes on. Mom and the child clean up the Thing’s house and reminisce about the fun and adventures they had. Then a young family with a baby move in. The Thing would have liked that, thinks the child.

In the last picture, we see the child happily playing board games with more Things, everyone enjoying afternoon drinks that Mom is bringing.

I’ve included so many pictures to show how universal this story can be. The advertising blurbs speak of a little girl and a monster. I don’t think the child is necessarily a little girl. In one illustration, the corner of the backpack looks pink, but that’s it.

We don’t really know anything about the child – the age, gender, ethnicity, or culture. We assume it’s North America because the mother is Mom. Mom is in overalls and a tee-shirt, looking more modern than agricultural, but we can’t really tell her ethnicity either.

Whether or not this was intentional, I think this makes this story accessible for many families and children. The faces and hair could be from different backgrounds, and with people from all over the world moving to countries that are foreign to them, I think this a wonderful way to make sure that many young readers could see themselves in this story.

The topics are serious ones – “others”, difference, inclusion, empathy, loss, grief – it covers a lot of territory, and it deserves to capture the attention of the public. I hope it does.

The illustrations are magnificent. Thanks to NetGalley and Frances Lincoln Children’s Books for the copy for review.
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Overall an interesting concept but, I felt like something (small) was missing. There is certainly an audience out there that will adore this book for everything that it is. I will say that I appreciated the illustrations quite  a bit.
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A lovely picture book about random acts of kindness, friendship & loss. Would definitely recommend for use in Nurture settings & by ELSAs.
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Cute story, adorably illustrated.  Little girl offers a flower to the Thing because it looks lonely.  This begins a treasured friendship, but all things must go sometime.

Thank you to NetGalley for an electronic copy in exchange for an honest review.
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In a Nutshell: A beautiful story but too abstract. Will work in niche situations.

Written from the first person point of view of a little girl, the narrator tells us of a “Thing” who lives on her street in house no. 52. He seems lonely, so she takes permission from her mother to befriend him. The Thing and the girl quickly bond, and spend a lot of time together doing relaxing activities. But as the Thing reminds his little friend, all Things have to go some time. And when the sad day comes, the little girl obviously grieves the loss of her friend, but knows that it is but the way things are and life moves on.

As an adult, I can see how the story can be correlated to many themes such as the loss of a loved one or grief over someone’s moving. However, the logical side of me (which, ideally, shouldn’t have been active while reading something so surreal) has many questions. I don’t do very well with metaphorical reads, and this book is proof of my ineptitude to gauge what it is actually attempting. 

In terms of physical characteristics, the Thing appears to be a weird amalgamation of several creatures, and seems closely related to a Yeti. But in terms of the metaphorical meaning, it could have been an old relative or a kindly but lonely neighbour or just a random lonely stranger.  Honestly though, every meaning I applied went for a toss when I saw one page had Mom making Thing have a bath in a clawfoot bathtub while the girl sits next to them, writing party invites. It was a bit creepy!  

But this does not tie up all the segments of the story. Why was the Thing loving alone despite there being so many other Things in the vicinity? Then again, who were all the other Things? Why did each of them appear so different from each other? Also, why did the girl not have any human friends? Why did Thing not have a proper name? (Actually, I just hated the use of the word “Thing” to depict a living creature. It felt somewhat demeaning.) 

One thing I truly loved about the book was how the girl sought permission from her mother before befriending the Thing. The Thing could have any creepy old guy, so it was nice of the book to emphasise to its little readers how parents need to be kept in the loop before they go approaching random lonely strangers with offers of friendship. The mom plays an active albeit silent role in the story.

I also like the themes of loneliness, friendship, loss and moving on. But most of these were too abstract. Moreover, the ending feels quite rushed as the girl’s coping process after Thing goes away isn’t described at all.

The illustrations are the star of the book, with them having a Pixar-movie kind of appearance. 

If you are looking for something obvious and clear on the page, this book won’t work that well. But I guess every book has the right reader, and I hope this one will find its target set too, preferably someone who is more comfortable with figurative content. The book is aimed at readers aged 4-7 years, but I don’t think this book will work for independent reading. 

3 stars.

My thanks to Quarto Publishing Group and NetGalley for the DRC of “The Thing at 52”. This review is voluntary and contains my honest opinion about the book.
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Even thought The Thing at 52 is such a short book it delivered a powerful message. This a lovely way to explore friendships, what it means to be a neighbour and how to cope with loss.
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A beautiful book with captivating illustrations about love and loss 
Lovely to share with readers of different ages.
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A beautiful, beautiful book. Stunningly illustrated, it's a powerful exploration of love and loss. The art is so tender - absolutely love those colours, the softness and sensitivity, and the dream-like quality of the book.
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"Don't you get lonely living by yourself?" I asked him. "All things are lonely sometimes," said the Thing.

Although this book is only 40 pages long, it leaves a punch I did not expect.

Highly recommend it if you are dealing with grief or need to explain to your children where our loved ones have gone once they've passed away and if you are trying to move on... it deals with this topic very delicately, and it will make you cry once you realise what the story is all about.
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With warm, comforting illustrations and gentle prose, Montgomery offers an unexpected take on the concept of an imaginary friend. While the Thing, a fluffy gray character with a fondness for mustard, initially appears to be a figment of the protagonist's imagination, we soon find both the protagonist and her mother visiting the Thing in his home, suggesting that he may be real after all. After a series of charming adventures and a gathering with many other Things, the protagonist learns that she must part with the Thing. This heartwarming story not only sparks the imagination, but also offers a model for coping with loss and being apart from loved ones. This is sure to be an immediate classroom read-aloud and bedtime story favorite and we will be adding it to our library collection just as soon as it's available.
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I loved this book exploring compassion and loss. Full of lovely illustrations and whimsical creatures, it's a provides a gentle way of introducing the topics of death and grief with children. It would definitely be a useful addition to a school library, or a helpful tool for teachers or parents wanting to talk with a child about bereavement. It's quirky, unusual, and poignantly beautiful.
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A girl reaches out to a large, lonely monster with a simple act of kindness—a flower. As their bond strengthens, they create memories filled with joy. The girl introduces the monster to other creatures in the neighbourhood. However, as time passes, the monster grows old and eventually has to leave. The community, created by the girl, provides comfort during this loss.

In The Thing at 52, friendship, community, loneliness, and coping with loss are woven together, showing how kindness and acceptance can bridge differences, build connections, and provide comfort during times of change.
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A beautiful story about a peculiar friendship. It was quite a bittersweet read. I really liked the artwork.
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A kind and cozy tale of friendship and loss with beautiful and cute illustrations and a soothing color palette with a lot of  tiny details to rest your eyes on.

thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing the ARC.
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