Quote of the Month

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

Saturday, February 23, 2019

You Are Never Alone

If we only teach one thing to our children, it's they are never alone.  There will always be someone to support them, guide them and love them.  In an ideal world parents will wish for every child born to them and they will dream of a full future with passions pursued for each child.  In life we learn other people can step into a child's life to be a parent, uncle or aunt, brother or sister or grandparent, whether they are related or not.  It truly takes a village to help a child grow into a successful adult; however success is measured.

We all reach a time in our lives when we look back seeing the significance of those who came before us and the promises they held for us.  We understand our purpose as children, parents and grandparents.  Above all things we foster a belief, something essential, in our hearts for children.  Hope (Disney Hyperion, February 5, 2019) written and illustrated by Matthew Cordell speaks to the importance of the connection between generations. It is a love letter from grandparents to a beloved grandchild.

Dearest Grandchild,

You are here.

Like no one else,
now, before, or after.

You are here.

The grandparents allow their grandchild to see into their life experiences filled with moments good and bad but also how those events are weathered.  These triumphs and tragedies are exhausting.  As they look upon their grandchild, the grandparents feel a surge of energy and gratitude.  This new life offers them, offers everyone, hope.

These lion grandparents teach of the value of individuals.  Each of us are important regardless of the size of the world and the residents populating it.  There are those who share our traits and beliefs and those who do not but always look for commonalities.

This grandchild will go where others have gone.  This grandchild has a choice wherever they go despite what others have done.  This grandchild has the ability to rise like a star.  It won't always be easy to glimmer when darkness descends but the grandparents ask their grandchild to look for hope.

Change is life and life is change but the grandparents remind their lion cub memories are lasting.  In a reverse and response, the grandchild has words to say.  These words are a truth of visions and visions realized.  They are a gift to those grandparents; a gift of hope fulfilled.

As the final book in the trilogy (Wish, Disney Hyperion, March 3, 2015 and Dream, Disney Hyperion, May 2, 2017) readers of the two previous titles might have been expecting a different voice to tell the story.   Matthew Cordell, wisely gives the narrative to an older generation.  With age and decades of life experiences, elders' perspectives, unbidden, shift.  Their respect for those events grows as does the desire to share any lessons learned.

By beginning each portion of the story with a salutation we are privy to a personal communication.  Short sentences with meticulously chosen words supply this child, every child, with the innate knowledge of their worth.  Matthew repeats the words shine and hope to create links and a cadence.  At the end all three books are an unbroken chain.  Here are several more sentences.

Change will come.
And you must face it.

As one light dims,
another will brighten.

We will not always be here.
But we will never be gone.

The lavender surrounding the three lions, a family, on the front of the dust jacket frames the characters in a complementary color.  The confetti pieces lift upward toward the words

Out of love comes . . . 

The title text and the confetti here and to the left, on the back, are varnished and slightly raised.  On the back the trio rest on a rocky ledge overlooking the animal family homes below them.  This is a small portion of an interior image.

On the book case one of the pale orange colors in the lions is used as a canvas.  The only element is the cub on the front, nose raised upward.  The colorful confetti go upward off the top.  The opening and closing endpapers are patterned in the confetti.  On the title page the parents and their cub, seated on a rock, face readers.

Rendered with bamboo pen and India ink and watercolor on paper the illustrations flawlessly flow from page to page full of life.  In the beginning the confetti call to the grandparents bringing them to their grandchild.  It then designates the presence of the newborn (and growing) lion.  White space supplies a canvas for single page visuals and small vignettes in loose circles.  To add strength to his words Matthew supplies readers with grand double-page pictures; the arrival of the grandparents, the parents and child overlooking the landscape, or the lion cub finding a mate.

Matthew is able to get a very specific type of line with his use of the bamboo pen and India ink.  It is loose but can be detailed.  With seemingly simple strokes he conveys much emotion.  Careful readers will see nods to the two previous book in one illustration.

One of my many favorite illustrations is on a single page.  The grandparents are reminding their grandchild of how generations have looked at the same stars.  (I know this will engage all readers; for who among us has not looked to the stars and wondered about those who have and who will look at them?)  A large white border frames a loose square.  Within this square a rich blue sky is replete with yellow stars.  On a low rocky hill, the grandparents, with closed eyes, are lifting their noses upward.  This is what we do.  We look at stars and then close our eyes to wish and dream.

First, I read Hope written and illustrated by Matthew Cordell several times.  Then I read it after reading Wish and Dream.  Then I read it again.  It is assuredly wonderful alone conveying all the desires grandparents have for their grandchildren.  It cheers for grandchildren, all children.  With that being said Hope plus the two previous titles are a timeless trilogy.  You can't read them and not feel the overwhelming power of wishes, dreams and hopes.  I highly recommend this title for your personal and professional collections.

To discover more about Matthew Cordell and his other work, please visit his website by following the link attached to his name.  Matthew Cordell has a blog here and accounts on Instagram and Twitter.   Matthew posts a lot of artwork on his Instagram account with updates to works in progresses and sketches from his daily walks.

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