It is everywhere, except rarely when it isn't. When it is completely gone, it is used to describe that absence. It's found in songs, nursery rhymes and poems, common phrases, children's games and religious scripture. Perhaps you've heard You Light Up My Life (a 1978 Best Original Song Oscar winner sung by Debby Boone), Star Light, Star Bright, to see things in a different light, Red Light, Green Light or don't hide your light under a bushel.
Our eyes and minds take light and translate it into color. Depending on the season and time of day, those colors can range from subdued to radiant. In his newest title, You Are Light (Candlewick Studio, an imprint of Candlewick Press, March 26, 2019), Aaron Becker, Caldecott Honor winner for Journey, first in a trilogy followed by Quest and Return, takes a single word, die-cuts, an original poem and frosted acetate to fashion a book glowing through combinations of twelve hues and resplendent words.
This is the light
that brings the dawn
As the light rises and spreads, all it touches feels its heat and comfort. When it reaches seas and oceans a familiar pattern begins. It is a circle of rising and falling. We need the rain to promote growth; the growth of foods we and other lives need to survive.
When this necessary light strikes plants, they turn to accept it. It gives them life. They give us oxygen and more in return.
Buds and bulbs open or push forth eager bursts of color when light warms and touches them. At day's end, when the sun dips beneath the horizon and the moon rises, it shines from the same light. Like the land, seas and oceans, the falling rain, the food consumed, leaves, flowers and our moon, light is a part of who we are.
This four stanza poem, the first in free verse and the following three with the second and fourth phrases rhyming, speaks simple truths but author Aaron Becker leaves each thought open to interpretation. It is meant to be shared as each portion presents the opportunity to ask questions and promote discussions. Although the gentle cadence supplied by the words is soothing, this light, the sun, generates action. Some of the activities are straightforward; others are more figures of speech.
to warm the sky
and hug the land.
The trim size for this book, 8 1/2 inches by 8 1/2 inches, is perfect for any age. The sun on the front and first page is the only intricate die-cut in addition to the twelve circles. The sturdy board and more durable frosted acetate guarantee this book will be loved for a long time. The crisp white used for all the pages, except for the moon in black, is a wonderful canvas for the colors.
With each page turn, a series of circles are removed from the original set we see on the front. For the first one, it's five yellow circles which alter their hues depending on the kind of light shining through them from their back. Readers will be fascinated to see how many circles are moved each time. Will they see a pattern? Based on the narrative, Aaron Becker has carefully determined which color scheme will be on the left and what will remain on the right.
On the right, in the center of the circles, original cut shapes are painted in delicate watercolor hues. These match the colors of circles moved from right to left. The text is placed in the center of the circles on the left except for the beginning and the end; when it is placed on the right. This makes the entire poem and the images a circle.
There is not a page turn or an image in which readers, me included, will not be enchanted. Without taking away the joy of reading it yourself, the blend of words and images when Aaron Becker is speaking about the sea and a blossom are two of my favorite pairs. In each of these a different type of figure of speech is used. The companion artwork makes you want to reach out and cup it in your hands.
Whether you use natural light or artificial light or the light in your heart, be sure to shine it through You Are Light written and illustrated by Aaron Becker. It is guaranteed there will be multiple readings. I highly recommend this title for any and all collections, professional and personal.
To learn more about Aaron Becker and his other work, please follow the link attached to his name to access his website. Aaron maintains an account on Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter and Vimeo. At the publisher's website you can view an interior image. At author, reviewer and blogger, Julie Danielson's website, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, Aaron talks about his process art. You will enjoy seeing all the artwork.
UPDATE: Aaron Becker talks about this book on public radio on August 30, 2019.