Quote of the Month

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

Friday, December 29, 2017

Speak With Compassion

As 2017 comes to a close people tend to mull over the past year and look forward to the next.  It's a time to examine who we are, who we want to be and how we will be remembered.  The making of New Year's resolutions is traditionally observed around the world.  A very low percentage of those intentions are followed.  It has been suggested the reason for this low percentage is due to the complicated nature of the resolutions or the number made.

If each of us were to select a single pledge, a change for 2018, or a recommitment, what would it be?  Words and Your Heart (Feiwel And Friends, an imprint of Macmillan Publishing Group, LLC, December 26, 2017) written and illustrated by Kate Jane Neal invites us to consider the effect of what we say.  We need to decide if we will heal and give hope or hurt.

This little book is about your heart.

(The little bit inside of you that makes you, you!)

It is requested we be quiet.  We need to hear what this book has to say.  It is most likely to be paramount in helping with the happiness of others and of us.

We are told the words we hear impact our heart.  These words depict all kinds of fabulous things of every size imaginable.  These words can orchestrate supreme joy or unbearable sadness.  Or they can pierce our heart.

The potential for words to affect great change in someone's heart is noted.  They can alter a mood.  They can shift a mindset.  They can change a life.

A question is asked.  A declaration is shouted.  Another question implores us to work together for the common good.  Each one of us has the opportunity to make life on this planet finer every time we speak.

In a simple first person narrative Kate Jane Neal presents the value of words.  She takes readers on a gentle journey, exploring the human heart.  She gives examples of what words can do in a positive and a negative way.  Within parentheses she has conversational asides.  The progression of her story leaves readers empowered and inspired.  Here is a passage.

They can explain stuff,
so you understand that it goes

or spin, tinkle, PING!!!

The warm red spread across the dust jacket welcomes us to this book.  The limited color palette of red, black and white magnifies the significance of the words and images.  Three small varnished red hearts are placed above and below the white title text on the spine.  To the left, on the back, under a heart and framed in scrolled lines, are the words:

the little bit inside of you
that makes you, you!

On a crisp white canvas the book case introduces us to the other character in the book, a human child.  On the front the child is pointing to their heart.  The cat is holding out a large heart to the child.  Both of them, arms spread wide open, smiling and faces lifted upward are on the back.  On the opening and closing endpapers in three shades of red are rows of squares with hearts in the center.

In the body of the book with only two exceptions the background is white accentuating the fine, loose lines of the drawings.  If Kate Jane Neal wishes to emphasize a particular portion of text she will change the size and style like in a comic book.  Most of the images are placed on single pages but for pacing may expand into two pages.

One of my favorite of many illustrations spans two pages.  On the left the child is airborne in an unusual flying machine, wearing a red helmet.  On the right the cat is held aloft by a big red balloon.  Beneath them are puffy white clouds outlined with smudgy lines.  This is a lighter look at how words are uplifting.

In her debut picture book author illustrator Kate Jane Neal uses her carefully chosen words to create a powerful, lively volume.  Readers of all ages will find strength in the promise of her narrative.  This title could be paired with Be A Friend (Bloomsbury Children's Books, January 5, 2015) written and illustrated by Salina Yoon.  I highly recommend Words and Your Heart for use in your professional and personal collections.

To learn more about Kate Jane Neal, her other work and the process involved in bringing this book to readers, please access her website by following the link attached to her name.  At the publisher's website you can view interior images. Enjoy the videos.

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