Quote of the Month

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

Friday, April 24, 2015

Roaming The Roads

Some are large and obvious.  Others are faint and more hidden.  Both are used, starting, stopping, wandering and weaving. All are roadways.

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail extends from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine.  Stretching for about 2,200 miles, it's a hiker's challenge.  Route 66 one of the original highways in the United States bridges the distance between Chicago, Illinois and Los Angles, California.  It has been commemorated both in song and in a television show in the early 1960s, Route 66.  These are well-known avenues of travel.

Less recognizable are those pathways shared by local wildlife through woods, meadows and vacant lots in communities.  Only a keen nose, instinct or sharp eyes can find them.  Wherever You Go (Little, Brown and Company, April 21, 2015) written by Pat Zietlow Miller (Sophie's Squash) with illustrations by Eliza Wheeler (Miss Maple's Seeds) follows a free-spirited rabbit journeying to search and see.  Let's check the air in our tires and oil the chain on our bikes, pack life's essentials, invite a friend and join him.

When it's time for a journey, to learn and to grow,
roads guide your footsteps wherever you go.
Roads give you chances to seek and explore.
Want an adventure? ...

The country path from his doorway leads him through the woods, up and down hills and beneath a covered bridge.  He and his buddy, an owl, gaze with wonder at roadside streams and over the large expanse of an ocean.  In the distance the lights of a large city beckon.  Tall buildings line the streets, vehicles of all shapes and sizes speed by and the duo join the noisy night life.

An unplanned trip through a village built near small and large waterways provides them new options and connecting structures to cross.  At times two roads blend together creating a greater route to places and pals yet unknown.  It's a leap of faith to follow where these highways lead.

Each decision offers enriching experiences.  Others on the road slow to a stop or pause to peek at the views.  New vehicles supply transportation to towering heights.  Hikes to the top above the clouds present panoramic sights.

Rest and reflection on the trails taken or not, the planned and unplanned circumstance and with whom each step was shared are part of the trip.  Soon the haven of home calls to the travelers. Back they go beneath the covered bridge, down and up hills and past trees as familiar as friends to the place where their hearts reside.

Like a feather caught in currents of air, moving gently up and down, over, under and around, Pat Zietlow Miller's phrases envelope and carry us as we shadow the adventures of rabbit and his companions.  Her meticulously chosen words form quiet rhymes flowing as naturally as a sunrise and sunset.  They take us places, real and imagined, on roads being as they are meant to be.  Here is another sample passage.

Small, distant roads sometimes travel alone,
marking the miles out there on their own.

Then a new road wants to join in the fun,
heads the same way, and the two become one.

In what can only be described as a glorious scenic vista spanning both sides of the opened matching dust jacket and book case, Eliza Wheeler has created, here and within the book, marvelous realms for us to traverse rendered in dip pens and India ink and colored with watercolor and gouache. You can smell the sweet fresh air along with rabbit and feel the delicate breezes.  Do you notice the little animal reading on their front porch?  On the back, to the left two alligators are heading to their fishing hole, poles over their shoulders.  The orange van a la Volkswagen carrying a menagerie of travelers crosses a bridge in the distance.  The rustic red blush seen on the trees provides the solid background for the opening and closing endpapers.

A soft golden luminescence appears on all the pages, like a perfect opportunity.  A soothing palette permeates all the pages with darker hues at night.  The exquisite line work, the painstaking tiny details on the animals, the structures and natural elements is breathtaking.  You will want to pause on every single picture, almost all of them spanning two pages but often depicting the passage of time from left to right.

Her artwork not only enhances the words of Miller but offers more stories to the careful observer.  On one particular two pages, rabbit with owl in the front basket is passing by two mice floating down a river in their houseboat.  When the sky darkens and rain begins to fall, we see rabbit and owl with umbrellas over their heads.  On the back of the bicycle beneath rabbit's umbrella, the mice and their boat are safely strapped in place, sheltered from the shower.

One of my many favorite illustrations (I would frame and hang any of them in my home.) takes place in an old forest filled with tall, tall trees.  It starts with dusk falling as the van loaded with the adventurers, including rabbit and owl, winds down the road.  To the right with darker purple shades on the tree branches, we see all sorts of homes built on the trucks glowing with light.  The trees are connected with wooden slat bridges.  In the center of the right page, all the friends are gathered around a table outdoors enjoying tea and treats.  You want to walk right into the page and sit down with them enjoying the laughter and conversation.

Wherever You Go written by Pat Zietlow Miller with illustrations by Eliza Wheeler is a heartwarming trek on all types of roads, in all kinds of weather, during all parts of the day through wonderful landscapes.  Hope bursts forth on every page.  It reads aloud beautifully, so I highly recommend it for sharing.  I will be adding it to my Mock Caldecott list.

To discover more about Pat Zietlow Miller and Eliza Wheeler please visit their websites by following the links attached to their names.  Here is the link to a post Eliza Wheeler did about her process at Picture Book Builders. It is a must read.  These two links take you to interviews at Inkygirl.com hosted by author/illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi with Pat Zietlow Miller and Eliza Wheeler.  Enjoy the book trailer.


  1. Bravo. Great review- so eloquent. You should write if you already don't.

    1. Thank you, Kathy. Your kind words are appreciated.

  2. I'm a big fan of adventure . . .this is a lovely review.

  3. Lovely review. I can't wait to get my hands on this book!