Quote of the Month

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

Friday, March 25, 2016

These Things Are True

When I looked out my front window this morning, I knew I would see the row of snow-capped mountain peaks reaching toward the sky like eager fingers.  I knew flashes of white, black and iridescent blue would signal the gathering of the resident magpies roosting in their favorite pine tree.  I knew chickadees would be flitting from bush to bush and tree to tree.  When I looked through my back window I knew I would see piles of needless and cones on my deck and yard dropped from the Ponderosa pines.  I knew the tiny lights on Xena's tree would be twinkling in the early morning light.

What I did not know was a new bird with a song so sweet it sounded like a symphony would pass through my yard.  I did not know I would gasp in surprise at the row of lilac bushes now wearing green in their boughs as if some garden fairy had waved a wand last night.  That's the gift each day brings to us; the known and the unknown.

How fortunate it is for those who learn at an earlier rather than a later age of the true beauty to be found in being open to all the little and big things offered to us within the moments of our lives.  The Knowing Book (Boyd Mills Press, an imprint of Highlights, February 23, 2016) written by Rebecca Kai Dotlich with illustrations by Matthew Cordell depicts the potential for discovery right outside our own doorways.  It's a path worth following.

Before you forget...
...look up.

Regardless of the weather the sky is there...always.  When you begin your day, there is more than one direction you can take.  The whisper of a song or of a tear will never steer you wrong.

Let every single one of your senses, seeing, hearing, tasting, touching and smelling, should operate at their full potential.  What do they tell you?  Is your intuition sending a message?  Listen.  Learn.  Stop and think some more.

Be prepared but if you should stray from the familiar, be ready to embrace the unexplored.  You are smarter than you believe yourself to be.  You will do the right thing at the right time.  Give yourself the pause needed to dream of all you can be, should be and want to be.

Let the child in your heart go free by seeking the simple and embracing the bliss it can bring.  As the day draws to a close and the route you chose guides you home, surround yourself with the night noises.  Remember.  Remember to end as you started.

Each time I've read this book the passages divided by page turns have encouraged me to stop.  Rebecca Kai Dotlich has spun a narrative, a guide, which wraps around you like a melody as you read.  Her poetic words find the heartbeat of our individual universes within the greater whole inviting us to embrace each rhythm.  Here is a sample passage.

Don't be too busy to slosh in a puddle
or fly a kite,
or too important to pick up the lost coin
or the common shell.
These small things are coveted by giants.

I want to stand on the grassy hill, the roof of the rabbit's home, at night.  I want to feel the breeze that is blowing the scarf.  I want to sense the vastness of the sky as I lift my head joining this child in star gazing.  Matthew Cordell extends the image over the spine of the matching dust jacket and book case to the left given us a vision of a huge patchwork landscape of hills, trees and paths. (Be sure to run your hands over the title text on the dust jacket.)  The opening endpapers depict the early morning light of a sky patched with clouds.  The star-studded night returns on the closing endpapers.  Beneath the text on the title page the rabbit stands outside looking at that morning sky from a hilltop, smiling, waiting and watching.

The exuberance running through the author's words is masterfully presented in each illustration.  Cordell's signature loose lines and tiny details explicitly mirror every mood of the rabbit and the bird companion throughout the day.  To begin a fading crescent moon hangs in the sky.  When the rabbit leaves home the interior room includes pictures on the wall of family members and the little bird, and delicate dishes and bottles on a table, vessels for rabbit things like carrots.

When the rabbit and bird rest on a hill to search for magic, sit in a tree to imagine, seek a pathway or pretend when looking at cloud formations, Cordell's pictures bring us into each wonderful scene.  Many of his illustrations span two pages or if they are separate smaller pictures his design has elements from one become part of another.  For most of the visuals the perspective is similar but when rabbit blows the horn we are close to him, the words direct us to this intimacy.

One of my favorite of several illustrations is the first one featured on a single page.  The morning appears in faint shades of green and pink glowing within the clouds, the moon growing pale in the dawn.  On a small hilltop stands the rabbit.  His/her back is to us, scarf billowing out mostly on the right.  The rabbit's arms are away from his/her body's sides, lifting upward to greet the day.  You can almost hear a voice saying "Here I am world.  What are we going to do today?"

The Knowing Book written by Rebecca Kai Dotlich with illustrations by Matthew Cordell is a book for all ages.  It literally radiates with warmth reaching out to readers, offering them comfort so they can experience everything found in each day.  It is an ode in words and pictures to life.

To learn more about Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Matthew Cordell please visit their websites by following the links attached to their names.  This link will take you to Matthew Cordell's blog. As part of several blog posts during the release of the title please check out the interviews at Geo Librarian, and  The Little Crooked Cottage.  Educator Paul Hankins highlights this title in a blog post at These 4 Corners about the process of remixing an F & G.  Educator Michele Knott showcases this book on her blog Mrs. Knott's Book Nook offering mentor text suggestions.  Matthew Cordell was a guest at author, reviewer and blogger Julie Danielson's Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast on December 15, 2015.

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