Quote of the Month

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

Friday, February 14, 2014

It's In The Air

As a whole we are a people who could be called makers of lists.  It seems we are constantly creating them before events; grocery lists, daily to-do lists, trip packing lists, to-accomplish-my-goal lists, holiday shopping lists, or things to experience before I die lists.  It would be a challenge to go through any day without seeing a best list of something.  Lists are a way to remember, document and highlight messages and moments.

Lists can be easily compiled without limitations but if we have a specific number of items in mind, they are a tad more difficult.  We want to make sure of the importance of every single line in this list.  In Ten Things I Love About You (Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., December 27, 2012) written and illustrated by Daniel Kirk, we discover, along with two friends, how truly valuable a list can be.

Hello Pig!
Hello Rabbit!

Rabbit has traveled the path connecting his home to Pig's with a specific purpose in mind.  He is making a list, a very important list.  Pig acts surprised to see Rabbit making a list.  He is even more amazed to read the title of this list.

Ten things you love...
about me?  Wow, ten!

The problem for Rabbit is, even though Pig is his very best friend, he is stuck.  He only has one thing on the list so far.  Since Pig is the perfect pal, he has come to him for help. (At this point, I find myself chuckling every time.)

Rabbit even cheerfully suggests that Pig might want to make a list too.  Pig, in his no nonsense manner, clearly states he is rather busy.  That very remark gives Rabbit the second thing he loves about Pig.

Rabbit leaves Pig's home intent on completing his tender tally.  Shortly thereafter he again comes to visit Pig.  Although he is trying, the third thing is not coming to him.

During the course of their conversation, Pig's responses trigger six more things Rabbit loves about Pig.   At this point Pig's patience is beginning to unravel. Oblivious to Pig's mood and happy the list is growing, the optimistic bunny heads back to his home.  Inevitably he arrives for the third time at Pig's place.  This time, it's Rabbit who is surprised.  The two realize they are more alike than either of them knew.

Told entirely in dialog, Daniel Kirk depicts all the charm and humor of this friendship while introducing readers to these delightful characters.  Rabbit's enthusiasm, his ability to turn a sentence into a positive point for his list, creates the special contrast between the two chums.  This comparison generates a gentle tension making the twist at the end even better.  Here is a single example.

Rabbit, I'm really busy now.
Could you come back later,
and we'll do something fun?

Number 5---I love Pig
because he's full of
good ideas.

Can't you just feel the joy when looking at the matching jacket and cover?  Look at those two leaping into the air, laughter spread across their faces.  On the back in a small picture they are hugging, eyes closed in pleasure, smiling.  Already you know this book is going to be filled with plenty of grins on every page.  The opening and closing endpapers done in turquoise and white with a loose brown border picture a map of Rabbit's and Pig's homes complete with trees, hills, flying birds, a tire swing, a garden, a hop-scotch board, a swimming pond and basketball net.  It makes you want to join their world, if only for a day.

The technique Daniel Kirk used for making his pictures could not have been more perfect for his two subjects.

The illustrations in this book were made by scanning ink-on-paper drawings and painted plywood panels into the computer and adding textures and colors in Photoshop. 

The rustic simplicity of the alternating single page, small images on a single page and the two-page spreads enhance the pacing superbly.  Expressive eyes, mouths and those perky whiskers of Rabbit's tell their own story.  I can't look at Rabbit's bare feet and Pig's tennis shoes without smiling.

I think one of my favorite groups of pictures is of Pig's increasing frustration.  He wants to get back to his work.  Beneath his two pictures Rabbit blissfully continues adding to his list.

I can't think of a better way to celebrate Valentine's Day then by sharing Ten Things I Love About You written and illustrated by Daniel Kirk.  Rejoicing in friendships any time is wonderful but today it's extra special.  Wouldn't it be great to give a book to someone today with a bookmark or card enclosed listing the ten things you love about them?   Go!  Do it right now!  Spread some sunshine!

If you wish to know more about the other books Daniel Kirk has written and illustrated please follow the link embedded in his name above which takes you to his website.

In the spirit of the day here is my list.

Ten Things I Love About Xena

  1. I love Xena because she taught me the joy in seeing things for the first time all over again.
  2. I love Xena because she kept me company on long walks along the Lake and in the woods.
  3. I love Xena because she takes me out at night so I can see beautiful star constellations, spellbinding moons, meteor showers and the Northern Lights.
  4. I love Xena because of her loyal protection when we've come in harm's way.
  5. I love Xena because she makes me laugh when I need it the most (and even when I don't).
  6. I love Xena for teaching me to slow down and be patient as she ages.
  7. I love Xena for lying across my feet when I'm writing and curling up next to me when I'm reading.
  8. I love Xena for waking me in the morning with her slobbery kisses.
  9. I love Xena for teaching me love means letting go when the other may be suffering.
  10. I love Xena because she has always been my friend when no others were. 
Some people will look at Xena and see only a dog.  I see a constant companion filled with unconditional love.

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