School Library Journal - PreS-Gr 2–Hoot, a stuffed owl, and Olive, a winsome and messy-haired girl, are best friends. Olive likes to experience adventures from the safety of her window seat, her nose in a book. Hoot prefers the real thing and promises to be brave enough for them both. “We can never be lost so long as I’m here and you’re there, and here and there aren’t very far apart,” he tells the wary child. A simple balloon ride turns frightening during a rainstorm, ending safely as Hoot unties the helium balloons one at a time to ensure a soft landing. But a ride down the river scares them both, and Hoot feels defeated when he discovers a hole in his covering, and some stuffing leaking out. Now it is time for Olive to be brave enough for two, and end their adventure tucked into bed with a book. Voss’s digitally colored pen-and-ink watercolor paintings are soft and lovely, with half-page smudgy thumbnail pencil drawings a sort of storyboard for the narrative. The language is similarly soft and lovely, and a bit Milnesque: “The pair rolled out, head over bottom, into a patch of grass.” It’s only natural that Voss’s characters share a Pooh and Christopher Robin relationship; he is the illustrator of Sally Walker’s 2015 title that tells the story of the real Winnie the Pooh. VERDICT The cover calls this a “Hoot & Olive Story,”suggesting there are more to come. Find room for this kind and gentle friendship story in most collections; perfect for one-on-one and small group sharing.–Lisa Lehmuller, Paul Cuffee Maritime Charter School, Providence
BookPage - Olive and her best friend, a stuffed owl named Hoot, are adventurers—or at least Hoot is. But when their latest escapade becomes more windy and rainy and woodsy than they’d planned, Hoot’s intrepidness fails, and it’s up to Olive to get them home again. Captivating and endearing, Jonathan D. Voss’ Brave Enough for Two gives readers a gentle and timeless message: It’s one thing to be bold and daring and seek adventure, but the friend who takes your hand when your own courage falters is also brave.
Voss is well-acquainted with best-friend tales, having illustrated Sally Walker’s picture book biography Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh. While Brave Enough for Two is his first book as both author and illustrator, Voss writes with vast talent, lyricism and gentleness. With compassionate and slightly off-beat dialogue, Olive and Hoot’s world feels like a neighborhood next door to Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood.
Using unique perspectives such as a bird’s-eye view of a balloon ride and the catawampus angle of a capsizing basket boat, Voss skillfully captures big dreams, vast skies, frightening storms and the relief of returning home. Soft colors, sidebar sketches and full-spread adventure illustrations make every page turn unique and inviting.
Brave Enough for Two is an instant classic, as is its enduring message of friendship and pluck. Any journey, big or small, is better with a friend by your side. But perhaps the biggest, grandest adventure of all is friendship.—Jill Lorenzini