Quote of the Month

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

Monday, November 18, 2013

Each One Is Unique

Life is filled with moments and memories of unbearable sadness and exhilarating happiness.  In between those unbelievable lows and highs, each day is filled with simple, tiny, truly magical instants, if we only take the time to notice and honor them.  I was writing on December 14, 2012, toggling back and forth from my blog to Twitter, when my feed was suddenly filled with the tragic events unfolding at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut.

On June 30, 2013 when attending the American Library Association Annual Conference & ExhibitionI found myself sitting at a table with Nerdy Book Club friends for the Random House Fall 2013 Preview Tea.  Two of the authors present were Patrica MacLachlan and Steven Kellogg.  That afternoon I received a f & g of their beautiful collaboration, Snowflakes Fall (Random House, October 29, 2013) and had the opportunity to chat with each of them.  To all present they both spoke about their desire to create this book for the children, prompted by the heartbreak felt by all on and after December 14, 2012.

After the flowers are gone
Snowflakes fall.

The mysterious beauty of snowflakes is they are all different.  As they cover the buildings, bushes and trees in our communities, the coats of our beloved dogs and gently land on our out-stretched  tongues, we marvel at their potential.  They are small but together they can transform a landscape.

They are carried on a breeze like sound.  Wild winds during the night, shape them like sculptor's hands as we lie awake listening in the dark.  With gladness we greet the new day, sun shining on fresh wonders.

Imprints are left in the snow by animals, sleds and children.  Men, forts and angels are made of and on the snow.  Weeks pass, the season changes.  Imprints, men, forts and angels disappear, replaced by warmth, green grasses and blooming flowers.  Even in the midst of a new season, the one passed will be not be forgotten.

Today as I write, it's snowing here again.  The wind is mingling dry, feather-light leaves with flakes of whiteness.  What I see outside is reflected in the words of Patricia MacLachlan.  Having read this book over and over again, I still continue to be carried from page to page by the gentle rhythm of each phrase, some repeated, one connected to the other.

Readers are transported to those snowy days, bundled from head to toe in winter wear, laughing and playing with others outside in the snow.  Readers can imagine the cozy comfort of snuggling under the covers in a warm bed as a storm  passes through in the night.  Readers are reminded of the flow of life and the power of memories.  The words of Patricia MacLachlan take you where you need to be.

When you first look at the front matching jacket and cover, you know you are looking at pure bliss; it's familiar and freeing to make angels in the snow, no matter your age.  On the back cover of both is a single snowflake set in a circle.  Close inspection shows a pattern with diamonds, hearts and snow hats.  This is enlarged, set within a square of snowflakes, for showcasing the title on its page.

Opening endpapers show children playing a game of hide-and-seek in the autumn woods.  One child is running off the page in the upper right-hand corner in a swirl of snow.  The closing endpapers are done in shades of blue, snow covering the land, snowflakes scattered about, twenty snow angels weave their way from one corner to the opposite; from land to the air.

The artwork of Steven Kellogg is as unique as a single snowflake.  All of the illustrations, two page and single page, are filled with the joys of childhood or in two, looks of questioning.  You can hear the chatter of children coming from the pages as they seek, discover and enjoy.  A couple of my favorite illustrations are a two page spread of children running up and down hills among the trees as their dogs scamper along with snow falling and a single page close-up of branches framing a window, a boy being tucked in by his mother for bedtime, the warm glow of inside contrasted with the icy chill of night.

Winter has always been one of my favorite seasons but watching the world get covered with snow will be different now after reading Snowflakes Fall written by Patricia MacLachlan with illustrations by Steven Kellogg.  In the stillness of a wintry walk I will be listening for the laughter of children, gone but remembered.

No two the same---
All beautiful.

For more information about Steven Kellogg please follow the link embedded in his name above.  Follow this link to the publisher website for more information about the title, a couple of downloadable activity pages, a teacher's guide about life, renewal, grief and memory, and a peek at some of the pages from the book.

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