Quote of the Month

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

Monday, November 19, 2018

Better Together

Friends and family, people, celebrate for any number of reasons.  None of these gatherings to observe something spectacular or the simple joy of another day, month, year or life well-lived are complete without food, especially dessert.  Said to be the most traditional American dessert pies have been historically documented throughout the world for centuries.  Most people will agree, there is nothing quite so savory as a fresh-baked straight-from-the-oven pie. 

Sometimes the first slice of pie is a bit tricky to cut and serve but the lucky recipient is certain to be happy whether it comes out whole or in pieces.  Pie Is for Sharing (A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, May 5, 2018) written by Stephanie Parsley Ledyard with illustrations by Jason Chin takes readers to a sunny summer day in a park near the beach.  Children (and their parents) are making lasting memories.

Pie is for sharing.

It starts out whole
and round.

Even though you can make the slices large or small, sometimes there is not quite enough for everyone.  Pie, on this sunny summer day, is not the only thing more than one person can enjoy.  A book, a ball and a tree are for sharing, too.

Jumping rope offers more than one opportunity for happiness. Can you name them?  At the beach the gals and guys sail a small boat down a stream and take a rest on the toasty sand.  Some people and natural treasures are more easily given than time with 

your best friend.

An unexpected tumble does not hurt as much if someone holds and helps you.  From the mishap you can create a tale of adventure.  Secret spaces and discoveries are better with a pal.  

Singing an impromptu song, tasting ripe berries and snacking on homemade bread rounds out the day.  The evening promises even more happiness on this fourth day of July.  We are gathered because everything is better together. 

The entire tone of the book begins with the first four words.  Stephanie Parsley Ledyard fashions an atmosphere of goodwill where all are equal, and compassion dictates the actions of the children.  She asks us to notice the obvious but extends out thinking. When we think we are alone, we are not; a companion is hidden. When we are doing what we think is a single activity she invites us to look at all aspects.  Here is a passage.

Easy to share:
stones from your pocket.

The illustration on the front (right) of the opened matching dust jacket and book case feels as though you are holding this day in your hands.  The expressions on the children's faces, and their clothing reflects the ease of summer.  Everyone is eager for a slice of the pie, even the youngest's best friend, the black dog.  With little imagination you can hear the quiet chatter of their voices and the sounds of the seagulls. Jason Chin works the colors of red, white and blue into the banner for the title text, the table cloth, plates, napkins and blanket on the right. 

To the left, on the back, evening has arrived.  The boy in the yellow shirt, the brother of the youngest girl, is offering the crumbs in the homemade bread pan to the dog.  The same red used in the title text covers the opening and closing endpapers. With a page turn Jason begins the visual story.  A family is in their kitchen getting ready to go to the park.  Two pies are about to be placed in a picnic basket.  The little girl has a blanket tented on the dog's head and her head.  Her brother is kneeling on a stool at the island.  The dad is filling water bottles at the sink.  

A large double-page picture has the family getting on their bikes in front of the house on a small-town street.  Chalk pictures and chalk are on the sidewalk.  It's a peaceful setting for the title page. On the verso the family is on their bikes, riding.  

Most of the visuals rendered in watercolor and gouache extend from page edge to page edge on full pages or double pages.  For the purpose of pacing several smaller images are grouped on a single page.  Each scene, worthy of framing, has elements leading us to the next image.  On the grass in one of the final illustrations is a book titled Liberty. (I am wondering if this is a nod to Lady Liberty by Doreen Rappaport with illustrations by Matt Tavares.)

One of my many, many favorite illustrations is a single page picture.  Five of the children are sitting or lying on a towel on the beach holding the small boat they sailed down the stream.  To their right (our left) the smallest girl is shoveling sand over herself.  Her belly is buried.  The black dog is curled and sleeping next to her.  Behind them is a bank of rocks and a path.  Some of the parents are there with new arrivals. Two tall trees are growing on either side of the girl.  Trees provide a pale varied green background along the top.

Pie Is for Sharing written by Stephanie Parsley Ledyard with illustrations by Jason Chin is a warm-hearted, beautiful portrait of holiday activities and festivities.  It depicts sharing of the little but important moments.  It honors the freedom to do these things.  Perhaps the next time pie is shared readers will pause and notice the other things being shared, in addition to the pie, and be grateful.  I highly recommend this title for your professional and personal book collections.

To learn more about Stephanie Parsley Ledyard and Jason Chin and their other work, please visit their respective websites by following the links attached to their names.  (This is Stephanie's first picture book.)  At the publisher's website you can view interior images.  The publisher also has prepared a discussion and activity guide.  Stephanie Parsley Ledyard and Jason Chin are interviewed at The Horn Book about this title.  This book is featured at author, reviewer and blogger Julie Danielson's Seven Impossible Things Before BreakfastStephanie and Jason maintain accounts on Twitter


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