Quote of the Month

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

Friday, January 11, 2019

Constantly Changing

For most beings it beats out a cadence of life.  It comes in all shapes and sizes. If broken, it may be mended.  It's capacity for collecting (or not) is far greater than its physical size would indicate.

We store many things in our hearts, some tiny and some enormous.  An attached significance determines its prominence.  My Heart (Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin Young Readers Group, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, January 8, 2019) written and illustrated by Corinna Luyken (The Book of Mistakes) explores the assorted aspects of listening to, following and tending our hearts.

My heart is a window,
my heart is a slide.
My heart can be closed
or opened up wide.

At times our hearts are vast and other times, they appear as a much smaller version of the first.  They even get heavy and shrink as small as the smallest seed.  When this happens, we need to remember what happens to the smallest of the small seeds.  They can blossom into something spectacular.

Our hearts may separate us far from others.  Sometimes the sound of our hearts is a mere breath of the tiniest breeze.; only those closest to us can hear.  If our hearts should shatter, we should pick up the pieces and make it whole.

Our hearts follow us but also lead us.  They do not leave us.  We are inseparable.

Ten sentences, ten simple but profound sentences, portray and reveal how our hearts reflect us.  Corinna Luyken uses rhyming words at sentence ends to welcome us into her book and to invite us to think about our own hearts. With her use of language, she asks us to listen, learn and accept.  Take a few minutes to reread her first two sentences.  Can you think how these apply to you?

We are introduced to the limited color palette selected by Corinna Luyken when viewing the open dust jacket.  Yellow, white, and shades of gray and black elevate the impact of the carefully chosen words in the narrative.  The grassy scene peppered with tiny yellow heart-shaped flowers extends to each flap edge.  On the flaps there is a profusion of blooms.

On the book case large brush strokes of yellow on white move over the spine, left to right, only to disburse, to the right and top, like a flock of heart-shaped birds.  Strong charcoal gray, almost black, makes a large border on the bottom of the opening and closing endpapers.  A wide expanse of white and pale gray spreads above it.

On the first endpapers, a bespectacled boy squats in front of a hole, holding a heart-shaped plant.  An empty pot is next to the hole.  Two other flowers are planted.  A fourth waits.  On the closing endpapers four flowers flourish, their tiny-tendril roots visible and flowing beneath the surface.

A gorgeous double-page picture focuses on a third child, a girl, standing on steps, holding a watering can.  Spread before her on the title and verso pages is a garden cloaked in yellow.  These illustrations by Corinna Luyken rendered with

a print-making process called monotype, using water-based ink and pencil

each span two pages.  The hues of the colors blend, moving from light to dark and dark to light, accentuating the textual descriptions.  Readers will be examining each image for hearts.  Some are substantial, and others are minute.  All will be happy to see a diverse cast of characters featured.

One of my many, many favorite illustrations is for the words

my heart is a slide.

A slide arches upward, the ladder forming one side of the top of a heart.  It drops to the ground, forming the point.  The shadow, on the grass, completes the shape.  Two children are near the ladder; another is poised to slide at the top.  A faint yellow surrounds him/her.  The point of the slide/heart goes into a yellow glow.  Genius.

If you want a book offering hope, championing the right to choose and ringing out all the characteristics of our hearts, My Heart written and illustrated by Corinna Luyken is that book. It envelopes you in wisdom and calm.  You could pair it with Love and Love, Z for a thematic story time or bedtime.  I know readers will want to share examples of the workings of their hearts.  I highly recommend this title for your professional and personal collections.

To learn more about Corinna Luyken and her other work, please follow the links attached to her names to access her website and blog.  Corinna Luyken maintains accounts on Twitter and Instagram.  Corinna chats with Scholastic's Ambassador of School Libraries, John Schumacher, on his blog, Watch. Connect. Read.  Corinna is also interviewed at Brightly and Mile High Reading, a site maintained by Dylan Teut, director for the Plum Creek Children's Literacy Festival in Seward, Nebraska.

UPDATE:  Corinna Luyken is a featured guest at author, reviewer and blogger Julie Danielson, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

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