Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Life Giving Water

I just spent nearly an hour at the truly amazing website of writer, poet, musician, activist and teacher, George Ella Lyon.  George Ella Lyon grew up surrounded by books; her parents insisted that her grandfather, who built their home, make sure to include a library which he did over their garage. A child of the Appalachian mountains, to this day she is still most at peace in the woods or library but having a community minded mother, she sees herself as a citizen of the world. 

Initially attending college with the intent to be a folk singer she found that writing, especially poetry were more to her liking; for her writing is a spiritual practice.  It's when she feels in touch with the mystery of it all; writing for her is experiencing and expressing the mystery.  Her picture book, All the water in the world, illustrated by Katherine Tillotson not only informs but as does the music she appreciates most, makes a difference.

All the water in the world... (title page)
...is all the water in the world. (first two pages)

Continuing with melodic words that seek to enlighten and invite readers to journey with this life-giving force from the sky, we travel with it to earth, running through waterways until it seeks again its start in the clouds.

In the beginning we are told what water does:  flows, wobbles and fills.  Next answering a question we read:

Water doesn't come.
It goes around.

From soggy soaked days to dusty drought; worlds with and without water are explored.

A tribute to its contribution and a plea for its preservation concludes this passionate poem of praise, promise and purpose.

Lyon's command of the power of words to move is magical.  A rhythmic characterization of thirsty air consuming water like a beverage or describing the release of rain from its cloudy confines will make readers want to sing, dance, clap their hands and tap their toes.  Variations in text size, its boldness or slightness or placement on the page liken it to a musical score filled with marks of dynamics:  forte, piano, mezzo-piano, mezzo-forte, pianissimo and fortissimo.

Although this title is illustrated digitally Katherine Tillotson states at her site that most of her pictures are rendered in oil paints.  Through what can only be described as true artistic talent, that medium's same texture, movement and form have been duplicated beautifully.  Every subtle shift, rolling rhyme or lyrical cadence in the language of this verse has been enhanced, extended, framed and showcased; the animals hidden in the joyous blue hues of swirling splashes, the tiger outlined in tree greenery or the drops of whirling water gradually changing to Earth's flora and fauna.

All the water in the world written by George Ella Lyon and illustrated by Katherine Tillotson is a symphony of sound teaching us more eloquently than any textbook, straight from the heart.

(Quotes and information about George Ella Lyon are taken from an interview conducted at Berea College, Kentucky, on the Head of the Holler program conducted by Dr. Chad Berry.  The YouTube link is highlighted in blue or can be viewed at George Ella Lyon's website.)

A teacher's guide to this title is provided at Lyon's site as are other guides for some of her books.

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