Quote of the Month

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

Friday, March 9, 2018

Creative Destinations

Even thinking about it makes individuals smile.  It can be a day or a month.  It's welcome any time of the year.  It's a shift in the established routine.  It's a vacation!

Sometimes a shift in the established routine does not signal a vacation.  Sometimes grownups need to leave for a few days without their children.  Mama's Business Trip Bunny's Staycation (Scholastic Press, January 30, 2018) written and illustrated by Lori Richmond is about a little guy and his very inventive papa.

Mama is going away
on a business trip . . .
and Bunny doesn't like it one bit.

He knows daily rituals simply won't be the same without her.  Looking at her packed suitcase, Bunny has an idea.  Without the suitcase Mama can't go.  Although his six possible plans to make the suitcase disappear might work, a more brilliant thought comes to mind.  What if he goes with Mama?

With his very own suitcase packed he is ready but disappointment quickly follows. Mama can't bring Bunny.  She assures him she will return in five days.  Unable to stop crying during story time at bedtime, his papa tells him they are going to go someplace little bunnies can go.  They'll leave first thing tomorrow.

In the morning Bunny and Papa get to work.  With a large box, paper, scissors, tape, crayons, cardboard tubes, and ribbon they design a means for seeking and having one adventure after another. For the following three days the duo enjoy fun in a variety of specific spaces found around the world until on the last day, Bunny can't handle his missing mama.

Papa makes a suggestion but Bunny has another brilliant thought.  Father and son create through the rest of the day and into the night.  It's finally Friday!  Mama is happily surprised when she walks into the house.  Life really is one adventure after another.

From beginning to end readers of all ages can identify with the characters in this story.  Through Bunny's thoughts and voice (plus Mama and Papa), Lori Richmond speaks to the loss children feel when their parents have to leave and also to the mixed emotions of those parents leaving home and those parents staying behind with their children.  There is a simple truth in Bunny's words and brilliant thoughts which make us want to reach out and give him a hug.  When Lori Richmond introduces the calendar given to Bunny by his mama and when Papa hatches the plan for their trips, you know this is a loving family.  Here is a passage from the book.

That night, Bunny sniffles all the way through bedtime stories.
"Papa, I wish we could go somewhere little bunnies can go, too."

"Let's do it," said Papa.  "We'll leave in the morning."

That happy-go-lucky grin on Bunny's face on the front of the matching dust jacket and book case is sure to get reader's attention.  You have to wonder what has his attention.  Is it the jumping goldfish?  Is it the picture of Mama hanging above the tub?  Is it his handiwork using the red crayon?  The splash of red for the book title matches Bunny's clothing but also a significant element in many of the images throughout the title.

To the left, on the back, the trio, Bunny, Mama and Papa, are standing together within a lighter circle placed over the washed turquoise background.  Mama's suitcase sits next to her.  On the dust jacket certain portions of the illustrations are varnished.

The opening and closing endpapers in shades of purple are different.  In the first Bunny's drawings are taped to the canvas.  They feature all of his favorite things.  The closing endpapers are a mixture of photographs and parts of the adventures.  Both sets are sure to make readers grin.

Rendered in ink and watercolor and composited digitally Lori Richmond begins her visual interpretation of the story on the title page.  Bunny is happily making the creations featured on his bedroom wall.  The verso and first page show Papa working on his computer as Mama packs for her trip.  Bunny is looking gloomy.

The sizes of the images shift to enhance the flow of the narrative.  Two-page pictures change to single page illustrations or a series of smaller pictures are grouped on two pages.  Lori Richmond tends to make her characters bolder in the pictures, fading other items somewhat.  The most important details reach out to the reader initially.

You will find yourself pausing to look at the little extra touches in the visuals.  Bunny is always wearing a yellow cape and the homemade purple crown.  On the backs of all the electronic devices is a carrot with its leafy top.  A Bun Voyage sticker is on Mama's suitcase.  Bunny has bunny slippers on the floor in his bedroom.  Humor comes in the imaginary attempts of Bunny to make Mama's suitcase vanish or when the family goldfish is leaping into the toilet.

A favorite of many pictures spans two pages.  It's a close up of Bunny and Papa ready for their first adventure.  The cardboard car fills nearly all the right side, crosses the gutter and into the left side.  Papa is pushing the back of the car on the left. This vehicle is brimming with all types of materials needed to fashion their fantastical spaces, their staycations.  Bunny, as is Papa, is smiling.  He holds the calendar given to him by his mama.  These two are ready for action.

You will find yourself smiling as you close the cover of Mama's Business Trip Bunny's Staycation written and illustrated by Lori Richmond.  Each of these characters is genuine in their love for each other and in their willingness to make the best of a less than ideal situation.  And I guarantee after reading this book, you have to have, at the very least, materials ready for creative hands.  A box large enough to hold a passenger would be perfect.  Get ready for requests of repeat reading of this title you will want to have in your professional and personal collections.

If you desire to know more about Lori Richmond and her other work, please visit her website by following the link attached to her name.  At this website on the page for this book, Lori has another link you will want to follow. Lori maintains an account at Instagram.  Lori is highlighted at Your Creative PushOn Our Minds, Scholastic's blog about books and the joy of reading, has a post about this title and other ideas for parents needing to be away from home.  Enjoy the videos.

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