Quote of the Month

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

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Geniune Greetings

There is an array of emotions present at arrivals and departures.  There is either great happiness, deep sadness or a combination of the two.  It's important to remember hello is not necessarily equated with joy nor is goodbye synonymous with sorrow.  Circumstances and the individuals involved dictate the emotional mood.  The people present can make a difference.

Children can see even the tiniest light in a looming darkness.  They are a gift.  Goodbye, Friend! Hello, Friend! (Dial Books for Young Readers, July 2, 2019) written and illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld takes us through the ups and downs of a little girl's day-to-day world with a large emphasis on seeking and finding the proverbial silver lining through friendship.

Bye, Mom.

Every goodbye . . .
. . . leads to a hello.

Hi, I'm Charlie!

Stella is not very happy about leaving her mother at home, but at school she immediately meets a new friend, Charlie.  She is no longer sitting alone at lunch or alone when riding the school bus.  There are playdates outside in piles of leaves and card games inside under a blanket fort on a chilly winter afternoon.

When snow creations melt under a spring sun, rainy days offer new merriment.  All the activities during a summer day last for treasured moments but they lead to new pursuits as the sky darkens.  What do you think they do outside on a summer night?

When a beloved pet passes away, Charlie is there to comfort Stella.  Together they celebrate a life which brought comfort.  Encouragement is given to try new endeavors.  When learning something new, the next attempt can yield amazing results.

These two friends are inseparable.  When one of the girls has to move, this goodbye is difficult.  Is there a hello to be found in this heartbreak?  Remember readers, there is always a hello, even if sometimes you make it yourself or decide to give it away.

The beauty in the words written by Cori Doerrfeld is they leave room for readers to reflect on their personal memories.  The toggling back and forth between goodbye words followed by the hello words supplies an engaging cadence, both uplifting and supportive.  A few speech bubbles at the beginning and ending of the story, provide a circle effect and reinforce the idea of being open to positive possibilities.  Here is a single sentence.

Goodbye to almost giving up . . .
. . . is hello to one more try.

When you look at the open and matching dust jacket and book case, the pure bliss shown by the characters envelopes you.  The looks on their faces, and their body language, on the front are ones of mutual affection.  Their colorful clothing set against the paler blue sky and field of flowers draws our eyes to them.  The text, Stella, Charlie and the butterflies are varnished.

To the left, on the back, it's nighttime.  On a slight hill are Charlie, Stella's dog and Stella.  Their backs are to us.  The girls are pointing with their outside hands to stars.  Their other hands rest on the back of Stella's dog.  This scene is brimming with contentment.

On a canvas of white on the opening endpapers in the lower, right-hand corner, is Stella, seated on the floor, putting on her red cowboy boots before leaving for school.  Her dog is licking her cheek.  With white as the background on the closing endpapers we see, in the lower, left-hand corner, Charlie removing a familiar letter from her mailbox.

The illustrations rendered using

digital ink, Dr. Pepper, and a good dose of nostalgia

by Cori Doerrfeld use very page turn to extend the narrative.  On the verso and title pages Stella's dog is running toward her and her mother as she feeds her goldfish.  Her mother is holding the dog's leash.

For most of the pictures, they span across two ages. For the sake of pacing there are full-page images and several images on a single page.  The matte-finished paper is excellent for the hues of colors used by Cori Doerrfeld.  Readers will love pausing at page turns to enjoy all the detailed elements.  Cori Doerrfeld adds items which reveal the season and her skies depict the time of day and weather.  Careful readers will notice the absence of the fishbowl after the goldfish dies, but will they notice what is on the table and wall in one of the final illustrations?  Dog lovers will adore the presence of Stella's dog in most of the activities.

One of my many, many favorite illustrations is of the two girls inside and underneath their blanket fort.  In the background, left to right, is the heat radiator, the window with snow falling outside and Gill swimming in his fishbowl on the table.  The red and white plaid blanket is stretched over several chairs.  Two more blankets are placed on the living room rug.  The two girls are lying on their stomachs with their knees bent.  Each is holding playing cards; others are scattered in front of them.  Along the floor are toy cars, building blocks, crayons and paper, a plate with sliced apples and a bowl of popcorn.  Stuffed toy animals along with Stella's sleeping dog are keeping them company.

Whatever age you are, Goodbye, Friend! Hello, Friend! written and illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld will fill you with hope.  It encourages us to seek, or if circumstances ask us to make, happiness, however small.  It allows us to see even in the most sorrowful events, there will be a change for the better; especially with the help of a friend.  I highly recommend this title for your personal and professional collections.

To learn more about Cori Doerrfeld and her other work, please follow the link attached to her name to access her website.  Cori Doerrfeld has accounts on Facebook, Instagram and TwitterCori Doerrfeld is featured at Brightly and at Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb.  At the publisher's website you can view the opening endpapers.

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