Quote of the Month

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

Friday, May 1, 2015

A Loving Heart Knows

The first of May was always cause for celebration growing up in my home.  For at least two days cone-shaped baskets with handles would be crafted from colorful construction paper.  On May Day early in the morning before beginning the day's activities or going to school, we would pick small bouquets of flowers from my Mom's gardens, placing them inside the paper containers.  The best part of all came next.

We went like fairies skipping from home to home in the neighborhood hanging the spring treats on door knobs.  Extending small kindnesses to others was one of Mom's gifts.  Mothers instinctively provide comfort.  In Bunny Roo, I Love You (Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), April 14, 2015) written by Melissa Marr with illustrations by Teagan White a child is warmly welcomed into their new world by a loving mother.

When I met you, 
you were small
and trembling,
and I thought
you might be
a little bunny.

The unseen narrator, a new mother, carefully watches her child.  Each time the child displays a different behavior she likens it to an animal.  She responds as the mother of the particular animal would.

A trembling bunny would want to be cuddled and cozy.  A pouch might be a secure sanctuary for an active joey.  A hill bright with sunlight would be the perfect perch for a special someone to learn about their world.

If you've ever heard the howling of a wolf at night, you know a youngster of the pack needs a home with their own special spot.  There's nothing like the cool sip of milk to quench hunger or thirst.  Soothing suds are in store for another.

A final facial expression, no doubt in response to the care given and received, tells this mother exactly what she needs to know.  This being is unique.  This being will be hers to love as long as she can.

With the presentation of each of the six animals, Melissa Marr is telling the reader, the child, no matter what you do, I know what to do in return.  Using the words when and then to introduce the actions creates a questioning note followed by the nearly musical answering words of I thought you might be.  When the mother explains what she does, a pleasing pause wraps itself around us.  Here is the passage which follows the first sentence.

I held 
you close
so you were 

Children like to run their hands over the dust jacket, book case and pages of books. (I do too.)  They are completely captivated by the texture.  The matte finish and heavier interior pages pair wonderfully with the theme of this title, a beckoning tenderness.

The delicate pale sage green with tiny white dots on the dust jacket and matching book case are a gentle invitation as well as an exquisite canvas for the palette used by Teagan White.  On the back to the left, we see the bunny sitting among the flowers and grass, wondering.  If I had to pick one word to describe a reader's first look at this book it would be comfort.

The opening and closing endpapers are done in the deeper rose shade with a pattern of white and peach flowers scattered along with clusters of dots. On the title page the text and the happy bunny, in four positions moving across the page, are framed with floral corner arrangements.  On the publication and dedication pages a single garden scene, flowering trees, flowers, a stony path and wooden fence, are the ideal place for the bunny.  This illustration crosses the gutter to the left.

For each action by the child, the text is on the right with the little one placed in a circular image.  I like this because the lines of a circle, like a mother's love, are continuous and constant. When the mother gives her reply White has painted lovely two page pictures in muted hues with graceful brush stokes and intricate details.  The clothing and accessories worn by the mothers are absolutely darling.

I adore all of these illustrations but one of my favorite is the first two page spread.  It looks to be a fuller view of the garden in which the bunny is originally seen.  On the left is a bird bath occupied by a happy cardinal with a sparrow watching on a flower stem.  Flowers are growing out of a watering can.  On the right a bird house is in a nearby tree with small wind chimes handing from a branch.  Another sparrow is sitting on the T of clothes line.  Clothing is in a basket and on the line.  Clothes pins are scattered on the ground.  Mother Rabbit is holding her bunny.  Both their eyes are closed.

Bunny Roo, I Love You written by Melissa Marr with illustrations rendered in watercolor and gouache by Teagan White will fill your heart with its charm.  Whether you share this with a group at storytime or one on one, each listener will know they are loved.   You might want to have the children think of other animals and their antics.  What would a mother's response be?  This is a book my Mom would have loved, every single word.

To learn more about Melissa Marr and Teagan White and their other work, please follow the links embedded in their names to access their websites.  This link will take you to Teagan White's Tumblr page where you can see interior pictures from this title.  Melissa Marr was interviewed at Publisher's Weekly and Brightly about the very personal reasons for this book's birth.

UPDATE:  Enjoy this podcast interview at Storybook Spotlight

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