Quote of the Month

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

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

When It Is, When It Isn't

When living in a state surrounded by four of the Great Lakes, large bodies of water can be easily reached in a few hours.  According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources there are more than 46,000 inland lakes ranging in surface size from less than a half-acre to more than 1,000 acres.  For three of the four seasons I can stand on my back deck and see Lake Charlevoix between the trees.  Being near, in or on the water has been a part of my life.

Essential to all living things, as a resource and a source of rest and relaxation, the value of water has never been more evident.  As a glorious ode to one of earth's prized elements Water Is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle (A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, May 26, 2015) written by Miranda Paul with illustrations by Jason Chin will leave you with an even greater appreciation for the wonder of water.  You will long to step inside the pages of this book.

Pour me a cup.

As water moves from place to place heat or cold can make it alter its shape as steam or clouds.  In the right conditions clouds drop stretching out velvet cloaks to wrap around the world below.  It's hard to see clearly.

Clouds can release the moisture they hold as rain where it gathers in hollows, basins and crevasses.  Let's all jump in the puddles!  If it were winter those puddles would freeze into ice.  This surface would provide for an afternoon of figure skating, crack the whip or maybe some hockey.

Remember those clouds?  When they form in the winter no-two-alike snowflakes fall.  As much as we like the crisp air and the fun of these chilly months, the next season chases them away.  Melting snow and early rains mix with the soil to make mushy mud.

Roots dip deep into the dirt.  Water travels from blossoms to tiny fruit to sweet, crunchy apples.  How do we get the water from apples?  What is it called?  Ahhh...the tangy taste of cider.

The words penned by Miranda Paul make music.  Whether read silently or aloud, they move to a specific rhythm mirroring the different forms water takes.  Alliteration, onomatopoeia and rhyming flow from page to page.  Here is another sample passage.

Steam is steam unless... (page turn)
it cools  high. 
A dragon
     in a wagon?
A crow
     kneading dough?
Clouds are clouds unless...

Rendered in watercolor and gouache the illustrations by Jason Chin are marvelous.  The scene on the matching dust jacket and book case on the front actually begins the story.  On the back, to the left, Chin shifts seasons at the pond.  It's a full-moon-winter night.  Children are running across the frozen pond.  The feline friend is still sitting on the dock.  The darker shade of blue in the title text is used on the opening and closing endpapers.

Before the title page we see a single page picture of the sister and brother net in hand on the grass next to the pond.  A turtle is resting on a nearby rock.  Extending edge to edge on the title page the duo has captured the turtle.  Their mother is calling them from the hill on which their house sits.  Their father is working in the garden.  And the cat...is gazing at a bird in the birch tree.

The dedication pages feature another double-page illustration; the first of sixteen.  It's a cloud burst rain shower with the children running to their house as their parents wait for them on the porch.  Chin moves beautifully from outside the children's home to inside to their porch to the pond.  We follow them to school, and home again for gatherings of friends in winter and the end of summer.

Delicate details, lively, charming facial expressions, and a soft, realistic, color palette draw you into each illustration.  Chin tells small stories across several illustrations.  The turtle netted in one is cherished for a day before being released back to the pond.  The sister pays back her brother for scaring her with a garter snake as he lets it go.  There are others but you need to discover them for yourself.

I could frame any one of these images to hang on the wall in my home.  One of my favorite visuals is of the sister and her brother waiting for the school bus on a foggy morning.  They are standing beneath a striking red maple, leaves blanketing the ground.  Other autumn colors swirl across the page as their ride crests the hill.  The boy is reaching down to catch the snake.  The cat watches at the top of the hill near their house.  A tire swing dangles from a tree.  A jack-o-lantern looks out sitting next to the mailbox post.

Water Is Water:  A Book About the Water Cycle written by Miranda Paul with illustrations by Jason Chin is in a word beautiful; beautiful for the story, beautiful for the paintings and beautiful because all children will see themselves featured within these pages regardless of their race.  Like water the text and pictures begin and end during the same season bringing readers full circle. At the end of the book each of the changes in water is explained further on two pages.  The following two pages compare the percentage of water in some of the living things pictured along with other facts about water.  There are sources for Further Reading and a Selected Bibliography.  Pair this title with Raindrops Roll, Every Last Drop: Bringing Clean Water Home, Blue on Blue, All the Water in the World, Water Rolls, Water Rises, El agua rueda, El agua sube  and Water Can Be...  

To learn more about Miranda Paul and Jason Chin and their work, please follow the links attached to their names to access their respective websites.  Miranda Paul has some activities for teachers regarding this title.  At the publisher's website you can view eight single page interior illustrations.  For a look at the process in creating some of the illustrations please head to Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast hosted by author and blogger Julie Danielson.  My favorite picture is there!

To discover what other titles are featured by bloggers participating in the 2015 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge be sure to go to educator Alyson Beecher's blog, Kid Lit Frenzy.


  1. This sounds and looks beautiful! I'm going to have to get my hands on it!

    1. Jason Chin's artwork is consistently beautiful Kellee. When paired with Miranda Paul's words you have nonfiction magic.

  2. I am so looking forward to this book! I keep checking daily if the library has gotten it yet.... I imagine it's a book I'll end up purchasing anyway, I know Carrie Gelson had great things to say about it too! Thanks for the review.

    1. I hope your library is able to obtain a copy soon Michele. I'm pretty sure you will want it for your personal shelves too. I'll check out Carrie's post too. You are most welcome.

  3. Beautiful. It looks like a very special book.