Quote of the Month

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

Friday, June 8, 2012

Listen To What Needs To Be Heard

As an educator I have learned over the years to listen very carefully to what my students are saying.  Their ability to see the obvious is uncanny but so is their desire to brainstorm creatively, not necessarily following the status quo.  They have not forgotten how to think with their heart.

The delightful character introduced in Henry In Love, has returned in a book with her name, Chloe (Balzer + Bray), written and illustrated by Caldecott Honor award winner (Hondo & Fabian), Peter McCarty.  Families have routines, a comfortable structure, providing stability, a sense of belonging and fun for some, if not all.  Altering those expectations is not always a good thing.

In a family of twenty-three Chloe is the middle bunny; ten older and ten younger brothers and sisters living with their mother and father. 

Chloe loved the end of the day, when her whole family was together.  She called it family fun time.

When Dad arrives home one evening with a box,  her special time of day is about to change.  Inside the box is a television.  The plan is to see what's on after a scrumptious vegetarian meal.

The whole gang gathers around to watch the monstrous Pound Cake wreck havoc on a city; the whole gang except Chloe and her baby sister, Bridget.  Chloe doesn't like this one little bit, no siree!  In fact, she and Bridget stand in front of the screen protesting.

What's a gal to do?  Explore other options, that's what.  It seems that Dad, in his haste to get the TV up and running, has neglected to take care of the box.

Clever,  crawling Bridget discovers treasure.  Bubble wrap plus one enormous box equals irresistible attraction.  Pressure by paws produces just enough pops to lure all the kids away from the screen in the living room and into Chloe's invention.  Everyone wants a starring role.

Frazzled parents issue the time-for-bed edict.  Kiddos willingly hit the hay,  but not before one wishes every night would be a bubble and box bonanza.  Isn't it strange though, Chloe can still hear bubbles popping in her dreams.  Is she really asleep?

Simple, sincere words are woven to convey Chloe's joy in her family being together, her frustration when the joy seems to vanish but her wholesome ingenuity in bringing them back as a unit.  Being in the middle is a unique perspective which McCarty depicts so well with his special storytelling skills.  Details, only a rabbit could appreciate, articulate an authentic voice in Chloe's love of her family and her place in it.

Thick vanilla pages provide the perfect canvas for highlighting Peter McCarty's truly artistic use of colored-ink drawings.  Opening the jacket and cover readers are treated to a family portrait; each member wearing an outfit and expression distinctly their own.  Across both sets of endpapers is a beautiful array of trees, branches and leaves; those surrounding the home of Chloe.

Browns, so soft you want to reach out and touch them, are filled in with an equally subtle use of color  Joy is evoked in the closeness of Chloe and her siblings when at play or gathered around the dinner table.  McCarty's portrayal of Chloe in the middle with her family circling around is sheer genius.

There is so much delight on each and every page of Chloe, every one suitable for framing. Peter McCarty has written and illustrated a story full of the love of life and lives filled with love seen through the eyes of a very perceptive young rabbit.  A treasure to be sure, this title will resonate with readers of all ages.

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