It's usually when something startling happens, out-of-the-blue, either good or bad; we begin to think about being at a certain place with certain people at a certain time. Words like chance, circumstance and coincidence start to roam around in your mind. The world as a whole expands prompting thoughts of a "larger" picture and how bits and pieces fit into the scheme of life.
The two most magical words, what if, begin to offer up other possible scenarios. The shared creativity of author Susan Verde and author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds who brought us The Museum join together in You and Me (Abrams Books for Young Readers, January 6, 2015). Friendship blooms when the wind blows.
Sometimes I think
of how things came to be.
How we met. How we became best friends.
You and me.
A cat starts to reminisce about a meaningful moment in its life which, given the right situations, might never have happened. A love of slumber, solos in the shower or enjoying a bouquet from the garden, might have altered events. Who knows what a favorite meal or wild weather would have changed.
Cloud gazing or a pesky pebble could have stolen time. When a stiff breeze lifts its hat like fingers, another paw reaches to retrieve it. This is when all those what-ifs are gently pushed aside. They are replaced with things done all leading to a specific second in time.
In a span less than a single breath, two beings are brought together. Two loose threads tie to form a bow. A day can make a difference; a difference lasting a lifetime.
An undercurrent of genuine emotion is apparent throughout this story. It rings so true it's as if Susan Verde is writing this with a special person in mind. Her rhymes carry us along on the sweet melody they create. Here is another sample.
Or if the clock had been slow and I was late,
lingering over my breakfast plate.
As we look at the front of the dust jacket their faces can't be seen but you know they are cherished companions by the curling of their tails. Seated next to one another on a rock overlooking the water the narrator of this tale is holding an object. There is a feeling of serenity in this scene. Moving to the left tiny details decorate the spine; each of the cats and a portion of the water are seen. On the back of the dust jacket we are brought in close to a paw holding a series of photographs taken in a booth. Two other paws are pointing.
On the book case front the two cats are standing tall looking at the reader with tails entwined. On the back we see them at the fair heading into the photos booth. The story has already started. The opening endpapers are in purple; the closing endpapers in golden yellow. When the first endpaper is turned we see a close-up of the two tails wrapped around each other. On the title page the two friends are again seated side by side, their backs to the reader. This time they are on the roof of a home, gazing outward surrounded again by stars.
Peter H. Reynolds rendered these illustrations using ink, gouache, watercolor and tea. A liberal use of white space frames all the images adding to the uplifting quality of the story generated by the fine lines and more pastel hues of color. Most of the pictures appear on a single page except for two extending across the gutter. One of these is without words but depicts a turning point. The artwork of Peter H. Reynolds is easily identified not only for his skillful use of mediums but for the gentle joy displayed on every page.
One of my favorite illustrations is of the first cat sleeping in its bed, tail peeking from under the covers at the foot of the bed. A tiny stuffed mouse is on top of the covers. A picture of fish jumping in an arc over sun-sparkled waves is hanging on the wall. A bright sun is shining in through the window.
This book invites you to greet each day as an opportunity for the unexpected to occur; to open yourself up to the possibility of happiness. You and Me written by Susan Verde with illustrations by Peter H. Reynolds is a gift to readers about the gift of friendship. It causes you to stop and think about your own life and those moments when chance, circumstance or coincidence brought you great contentment. Read this repeatedly to those you love.
To explore more about the work of Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds please follow the links attached to their names to access their websites. Enjoy the book trailer.