There will be times we want something we don't need. On the flip side, we may need something we don't want. When what we need and want collide, gladness resides.
In a strange twist, as life is apt to do, sometimes there is a need inside of which we are blissfully oblivious at the moment. This premise is set forth beautifully in Found (Walker Books For Young Reader, April 1, 2014) written and illustrated by Salina Yoon. Bear's life is about to change.
One day, Bear found something in the forest.
This something was the best thing he had ever seen. With great care he took the toy bunny home. He believed the bunny looked heartbroken about being lost.
Bear made flyers advertising his discovery. Every tree in the forest received this new feature as a part of its decor. Bear was surprised to see all the many missing items on the local bulletin board but no one seemed to have misplaced a very special toy bunny.
He did his best to look in every nook and cranny for anyone missing a beloved friend. He searched and waited for a response to his flyers until his mom called him home for dinner. He could hardly sleep that night wondering how bunny's family must feel.
The next day the toy bunny became part of Bear's daily activities; swinging, playing hide-and-seek, picking berries and picnicking. Bear had never been happier when suddenly a voice called out,
FLOPPY, my bunny!
Bear's tricycle came to a halt.
The toy bunny in the bike basket was given to Moose. This was one of those situations when sadness for yourself and happiness for another fight for position in your mind. Moose's heart knew what was needed and wanted in equal measure.
No more than three sentences are placed on any two pages. To generate the story's flow, one sentence might be stretched over three pages. As an author Salina Yoon is wonderfully mindful of her audience, the youngest of readers and listeners. Each thought, whether part of the narrative or a piece of dialogue, tells us exactly what we need to know. She creates a gentle emotional tension which takes a turn with a single word. Here are three of her sentences.
Bear wished the bunny was his to keep.
"But the bunny's family must be so worried," thought Bear.
"Poor lost bunny!"
How can you not fall in love with Bear and the toy bunny by looking at the opened book case? Bear is hugging what he wishes is his BFF but on the left readers can see he has made a flyer which is posted on a nearby tree. His red tricycle with a basket, bell and snazzy ribbons from the handle grips is simply charming. Salina Yoon's sense of humor comes through in the opening and closing endpapers full of flyers of missing items. A few words accompany each pictorial representation; Lost (Reindeer) Contact Santa, Lost (Toilet Paper) Rolled away, Lost track of (Watch), Lost My Hat (Red Cone-shaped Hat) I want it back and Lost My Marbles (Marbles) HELP! If you need some extra "smileage" in your day, stop by these endpapers.
Solid black lines frame all of the digitally created illustrations. With a line, dot or heart Yoon conveys emotion to her readers. High impact is supplied with a change in perspective and a double page image. (Bear's face when Floppy's family finds him.) A realistic color palette, sky and midnight blue, grass and forest green, sunshine yellow, pink, red, orange, shades of brown, black, white and purple, helps to endear readers to the characters.
Little details can be spotted by careful readers; the canary who is lost follows Bear, pinecones are featured in several illustrations, Penguin sits on Bear's shelf in his bedroom, Bear wears bunny slippers and there is a heart-shaped constellation outside his window on the final page. One of my favorite illustrations is when Bear has placed the toy bunny in his red backpack as he looks for his owner. He is looking low by sticking his face into a fish pond, holding the flyer under water. Bunny seems to be looking over his head too. The canary is perched on a nearby rock.
Since the release of Found I have been eagerly awaiting the companion title. Last week it arrived at my favorite indie bookstore, McLean & Eakin Booksellers in Petoskey, Michigan. Stormy Night (Bloomsbury, January 6, 2015) written and illustrated by Salina Yoon covers a fear felt by many children. I know...I was one of them for decades.
One stormy night, Bear couldn't sleep.
Wide awake as a hoot owl, he and Floppy, huddled beneath the bed covers as the wind howled and rain fell. They quickly got up to close the window. Bear looking straight at his bunny sang him a comforting song. Oddly enough, Bear wasn't so frightened for a few minutes.
Soon with the thundering increasing in volume, Bear was huddled under the bed. Mama came in asking him if she could stay with him. She was frightened too. (She actually wanted to check on her son.) Bear was happy and kissed her on the nose. Both felt comforted.
Before long Papa asked if he could join them in bed. Bear tickled his ears. Warmth spread over them both. Soon the three were reading a favorite book to make Floppy less afraid. As is the case when we are distracted, Bear was forgetting about the storm.
Oh! Oh! All Bear's fears came flooding back. Mama and Papa do three things which helped to ease his worries. Quiet followed inside his bedroom and outside in the forest. Sweet dreams everyone.
Six words, a simple thought begin this story. These words by Salina Yoon make a connection with her readers. They all understand lying awake in their beds as a storm shakes their house with thunder, lightning brightening their rooms in flashes and rain rattling against their windows.
Starting with the endearing rhyming song (readers and listeners will easily learn it, committing it to memory) and adding in the nose kiss, ear tickling and treasured book reading, lessons in banishing fear are subtly introduced. In this narrative, Yoon also tells readers how our worries are lessened when we think of others. As in the first book in this series the importance of kindness and love are marvelously portrayed.
The front image on the book case of Bear and Floppy looking out his bedroom window into the storm-filled night is extended to the left, rain falling and wind swirling. The little yellow bird (canary) is struggling to seek shelter. The opening endpapers highlight Bear's house on the hill in the forest, lights golden yellow, smoke coming from the chimney as rain covers the entire scene. A starry sky with a crescent moon replaces the stormy night on the closing endpapers supplying a more serene backdrop to the silhouette of the home and evergreen trees. I love that Yoon has placed the Big Dipper and Little Dipper in her sky. This is a perfect opportunity to acquaint readers with their other names.
Unlike the first story which mainly took place outside, this story is in Bear's bedroom. An identical color palette is used which renews readers' bond with Bear and Floppy. Yoon alternates between double-page spreads edge to edge, single page pictures edge to edge, individual pages framed in white space and thicker black lines surrounded by white space. As in the first book, these shifts in illustration size present the book's cadence.
A yellow star tops the bedside lamp in Bear's room as well as the ends of his curtain rod. Are these the North Star? Pinecones fill the bed of his toy dump truck. A heart is carved in the wood at the foot of his bed. Penguin makes an appearance again. The author of his favorite book is Bear E. Goodbook. All these extra touches are what make books illustrated by Salina Yoon so lovable.
One of my favorite illustrations spans the final two pages. We are looking inside Bear's bedroom window as everyone sleeps in cozy comfort. A falling star streaks across the calm night sky. On the window sill, the yellow bird dozes. This is peaceful perfection.
Found and Stormy Night written and illustrated by Salina Yoon are delightful additions to children's literature. They will find readers at all age levels for who can resist the exchange of affection between Bear, Floppy and his parents. These books are downright huggable.
To discover more about Salina Yoon and her other titles the link embedded in her name will take you to her website. John Schumacher, teacher librarian extraordinaire and blogger at Watch. Connect. Read. featured Salina Yoon this summer. This past month another wonderful teacher librarian and blogger at The Styling Librarian, Debbie Alvarez interviewed Salina Yoon. You can download a link to get Stormy Night wallpaper at Bloomsbury. I can hardly wait for the release later this month of the Floppy toy at Merry Makers.
To celebrate these two books, I will be giving away a set along with the Floppy toy bunny. Good luck.