Quote of the Month

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

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Power of One

Children are extremely intuitive.  They can read facial expressions, body postures and the inflection in the words we speak.  They can detect sincerity and truth in a heartbeat.

They have undoubtedly noticed adults following the news and current events with increased interest and their active participation in government and politics.  They understand there is social unrest throughout the globe and even in their own neighborhoods.  Come with me (G. P. Putnam's Sons, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, September 5, 2017) written by Holly M. McGhee with illustrations by Pascal Lemaitre addresses with compassion and courage the real concerns of a child.

All over the world,
the news told
and told
and retold
of anger and hatred---

People against people.

As adults, we know how disturbing this is for us.  For children it's downright scary.  Although fearful, the little girl approaches her father wondering how she can help.  What can a she do?  He replies,

"Come with me."

Living in the city, public transportation is nearby their home.  Together, hand in hand, they take a ride, politely greeting people and treating them with respect.  Even though the child and her papa do something ordinary, in the face of her fear it becomes an act of bravery.  Still upset by the news, she asks her mother the same question.

After her mama's answer they take a walk in their neighborhood, shopping at their favorite food shop.  This simple everyday trip reinforces the idea of accepting each individual on their own merits.  Her parent's activities prompt her to propose doing something on her own.  It's not easy for her mother and father to respond but they do.  They are choosing to live as we are intended to live.

As the little girl leaves her apartment, she is greeted by a boy across the hall.  They go.  They do.  It captures the attention of one, then another and then another.  From the smallest, greatness can flourish.

In this narrative, a gentle but powerful story, Holly M. McGhee imparts wisdom through questions asked and answered through action.  The little girl's parents seek to alleviate her fears through continuing to embrace the ordinary.  Declarative sentences express the truthful results of those actions in a manner all ages can understand.  Holly ties the first three small adventures together with the title phrase, leading us to the splendid ending.

Beginning with the matching dust jacket and book case Pascal Lemaitre makes marvelous use of white space throughout this title.  Rendered in ink and watercolor the illustrations reflect and enhance warmth found in the text.  The scene on the front, on the right, is the little girl walking her dog.  This simple activity represents courage by her and her parents.  Behind her are all ages and nationalities of people.  To the left, on the back, she and her dog, the boy from the hallway in her apartment building and a new young friend are starting a visual depiction of their desire to spread joy.  This is a hint of the ending.

The opening and closing endpapers are covered in a soft, chocolate brown.  The illustrations prior to each outing are spare and on single pages.  The everyday excursions usually span two pages.  Frequently the little dog belonging to the girl can be seen with her.  Careful readers will notice another teeny, tiny character appearing once the two children are outside.

After pausing at page turns and looking at each picture readers will agree that all the elements work simultaneously to create a particular feeling.  We feel a connection to this child and her parents.  We feel our hearts swell in celebration for their kindness and consistent pursuit of maintaining normalcy.

One of my favorite of many illustrations is when the girl and her parents are seated around the dinner table.  She has asked her question as she reaches down and pets her dog.  Her papa has a fork filled with food halfway to this mouth.  Her mama is equally surprised holding her fork motionless.  This is a defining moment.

Come with me written by Holly M. McGhee with illustrations by Pascal Lemaitre is a book to be read and read often.  It replaces fear with each one of each doing our part to spread courage and compassion.  The smallest gesture can change the world.  You will want to have at least one copy of this on your professional shelves and one for your personal collection.

To learn more about Holly M. McGhee and Pascal Lemaitre and their other work please follow the links attached to their names to access their websites. Pascal Lemaitre has several of the interior images on his site.  Holly M. McGhee wrote an article for The Washington Post, Teaching children how even the tiniest person can make a difference.  Holly M. McGhee is interviewed at Brightly, Two Writing Teachers, and It's All About the Journey.  At Celebri-Dots Holly M. McGhee posted a dot. 

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