Quote of the Month

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

Thursday, March 19, 2015


If my eyes had been closed, I would still have known it was there.  The air smelled differently as soon as I stepped outside.  Quite by surprise but really when needed the most, last week it rained.  It had been long months since the roadways, yards and rooftops were wet with anything but snow.

April Sayre’s Book Raindrops RollBy the time Xena and I finished walking, our coats were soaked but we both were filled with the sheer joy of this, however brief, change in the weather. Raindrops Roll (Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division, January 6, 2015) written and illustrated by April Pulley Sayre is a lush lyrical and pictorial ode to the fascination of rain.  It will have you yearning for all the sensory wonder this experience brings.

Rain is coming.
You can feel it
in the air.

If you look you can see the difference in the sky. Other life, tiny beings, knows to seek shelter under and within nature's umbrellas.  If you listen closely, it makes remarkable music when it begins.

Rain quenches thirst, cleanses and holds things in place.  It makes a dirt stew.   Every nook and cranny is a vessel for this precious liquid.

When it finishes, it still remains.  We need to zoom in, get close to the earth and see the transparent jewels hanging from grasses, edging flowers and marking pathways.

These delicate drops shape and sharpen.  Some of them stick, others slide.  They may be visible above or soak into the ground.  Until the sun pushes aside the clouds, they are another fragile, vital element in the cycle of life.

With the grace of a gifted wordsmith April Pulley Sayre takes readers into this particular portion of the water cycle.  Among the pages of her text for the minutes we are reading (and lingering after the book is closed), we feel the rhythm of the arrival of rain, the transformations as it falls and the noticeable differences when it stops.  She creates a beautiful blend between rhyming, alliteration and simple statements with a specific beat.  Her sensory word choices take us to each and every moment.  We are observers right beside her.  Here is a sample passage.

Raindrop spangles
mark angles.
They cling to curves
and cover cocoons.

Every single page holds visual representations of April Pulley Sayre's words in the photographs she took.  The matching dust jacket and book case highlight leaves speckled with watery spheres.  On the back, the left, a single bird sits at the bottom of the page as rain falls.  Perhaps the rich deep purple opening and closing endpapers signify the worth of rainfall.  One of many close-ups showcases a red, heart-shaped leaf on the title page against an unfocused green background.

Striking images are captured on all of the pages, sometimes spanning across both pages or grouped, edged in thin white lines, like a gallery collection.  Most of them take us as near to the subject as possible.  The lighting, perspective, framing and focus are exquisite.  I can only imagine the hours dedicated to getting the exact shot necessary to complement her poetry.

Spread over two pages is one of my favorite images.  Sayre has taken a picture magnifying the leaves on a plant, bush or tree. The raindrops are generally larger than the size of your thumb.  In them we see a reflection of the branches.  In a word, this is stunning.

Raindrops Roll written and illustrated with photographs by April Pulley Sayre is a treat for our senses.  You can't help but acquire a new appreciation, or enhance your gratitude, for this natural occurrence.  The next time the forecast calls for rain, you'll be ready with new eyes and ears.  At the end of the book Sayre includes two pages of scientific explanations about sections of her text along with a short bibliography of other related titles.  I highly recommend this title.

To learn more about April Pulley Sayre and her other work, please follow the link attached to her name taking you to her website.  April Pulley Sayre's pictures are featured at author and blogger Julie Danielson's blog, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.  A portion of my favorite illustration is shown.

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