To think about possible outcomes, to envision a future full of the best life offers to us and what we can give back, is how we fill our hearts with hope. As adults our purpose as we pursue our passions is to pave the way for opportunities for those who follow us. As my mom always loved to say, "Wherever you go, leave it better than when you arrived."
In Matthew Cordell's first book in a proposed series, Wish (Disney Hyperion, March 3, 2015) elephant parents long for a child. The arrival of this member in their family, after disappointments, is as if a miracle is granted to them. The second book, Dream (Disney Hyperion, May 2, 2017) written and illustrated by Matthew Cordell extends and explores the overwhelming pure bliss parents feel when their baby enters their lives.
On the night you were born,
our world shined
bright as the sun.
Gorilla parents gaze with complete amazement at their new child as if hardly able to believe such joy is their joy. Before them they see a life about to unfold. This new life will change everything; change them. As they fall asleep together, one dreams.
In the dream the eyes and voice of the child are remembered with great affection. The parent imagines the growth of the children in its ability to grip its fingers and climb to new heights. Huge emotions, some of them contrasting, are woven tightly together by these thoughts.
As the dream continues the child, more grown, ventures to new places. A friend is found. Play and similar pursuits are shared. A bond is forged. But then profound sadness comes and the parent will do anything to ease this particular pain.
The parent's thoughts keep on unfolding a possible future. The child is a young adult having followed a passion for making art as a painter. Upon waking questions and promises swirl in the parent's mind. Birth. Beginnings.
No matter how many times this title is read one thing is abundantly clear, love pours forth from these pages. Matthew Cordell conveys in his carefully chosen words the deep emotions felt by parents when a child they believe will never be born arrives. Matthew allows us to speculate along with the parent.
As the parent shares their dream you realize you are privy to an intimate experience. In this small being a personality is ready to blossom and flower spreading their own special beauty into the world. When we read we can't help but wonder how the rest of our lives will be directed. What will we dream? Here are two more sentences.
I dreamed of the many stars
in your small eyes.
Of the music in your voice surrounding
everything, everyone, everywhere.
The soothing mint green as a background for the front of the dust jacket lends itself to dreaming. The multi-colored pieces spiraling upward from the child signify a wish realized. They and the title text are varnished. This wonderment follows him throughout the story. To the left, on the back, one of the interior images is placed. A parent (mother) is standing outside their home as the other (father), on top of a hill above the house, holds the child up looking into his eyes. On the book case another interior picture is shared on a canvas of rich lavender, showing the child in five separate phases of growth. The opening and closing endpapers are patterned in the confetti representing wishes and dreams.
Above the text on the title page the parents are kneeling, both looking at their baby in adoration. An elaborate curl or question mark in the multi-colored pieces extends upward from the little one. With a page turn we see two pages of white. On the far right a gorilla hand reaches from the bottom of the page. It is holding a paint brush, stroking a line of green. Throughout the story we come to understand a picture is being painted as elements in the visual are added. This is blended in with the illustrations Matthew creates using bamboo pen and India ink and watercolor on paper. Without words the final painting appears on the last two pages. I can't wait to ask other readers who they think paints this picture during the story.
The illustrations in Matthew's signature style, loose lines, intricate details, and expressive facial features amid wonderful settings are set in liberal amounts of white space. This technique draws our attention to those items in color. The perspective is shifted to bring us close to the parents and their child or to give us a larger view of their surroundings. Sometimes the pictures will cover one or even two pages loosely framed or page edge to page edge. To depict several incidents over time, there are smaller visuals grouped on a single page.
One of my favorite of many illustrations is for the words
A great journey was beginning
on this very bright night.
A deep blue sky is brushed across the top of the page with stars and a crescent moon. The mother and father gorilla are standing in front of their home. One (the mother) is holding the child up toward the sky. A large pathway of the multi-colored pieces reaches from them covering the sky as it lifts upward. ( I determined the one gorilla was the mother because it looks as if the other larger gorilla is a silverback.)
It does not matter if you are a parent or not or if you are a child reading this book. Dream written and illustrated by Matthew Cordell is about hope. Children are our hope. They are the promise of a future. This title tells them love will follow them as they dream of the paths they may follow. These two books Wish and Dream are truly beautiful.
To learn more about Matthew Cordell and his other work please follow the link attached to his name to access his website. Matthew chats with author James Preller on this blog about the first book but this gives you an idea of how the proposed trilogy will be portrayed. Matthew has an account on Instagram at cordell_matthew. Enjoy these two images I was able to find online.