Quote of the Month

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

Monday, August 26, 2019

In Appreciation Of Printed Pages

Today hours roll by as books are sorted and added to the collection.  Near the end it's clear, there are many more books than spaces on the shelves.  The process begins anew with decisions on friends needing to find new homes.  By the very definition of friend, readers find themselves bonding with distinct titles based on understanding found through words on the pages.  An appreciation for the work of an author and an illustrator develops.  How many times have you said you love a book?

Affection for a book knows no boundaries.  There is no discrimination based on anything to deter a fondness shared by many.  Each individual has memories of books stored in their hearts (or on their bookshelves) for a lifetime, some are classics and others are contemporary.  A new collaboration by a highly respected team, their first since The Quiet Place (Farrar Straus Giroux) in 2012, is set to be released on August 27, 2019.  This Book of Mine (Farrar Straus Giroux) written by Sarah Stewart with pictures by her husband, David Small, champions and cheers for books and the reading they inspire.

I take this book . . .

When you take a book, read it and read it and then read it again, it becomes a trusted companion.  It does not judge but illuminates.  It flings doors wide open with encouragement.

As babies, a book satisfies a hunger, figuratively and literally.  As we grow, it's there when needed in the dark of night.  It inspires artistic endeavors.  We allow it to gladly consume our full attention.

When we select to possess a book, we can find ourselves within those pages.  Through exploration in books, discoveries necessary for our souls and our minds are made, triggering our imaginations and thirst for knowledge.  All these riches are our reward for as long as we breathe.

There is a soothing rhythm to the words written by Sarah Stewart.  She begins and ends the narrative referencing a book as a friend.  Between these two thoughts are rhyming sentences and phrases.  These connect to our actions as infants, young children, and adults indulging in the bliss books can bring.  In her words there is equality regardless of age.  Here is a passage.

To think about what I
just saw---
then close the book
and try to draw.

The hues of purple seen on the open and matching dust jacket and book case elevate the calm found in the text.  (I always link purple to royalty which is appropriate when discussing the importance of books.) This is also the first time we see a contrasting color used in the books read by the people featured.  Illustrator David Small does this throughout the book, alternating between shades of green, orange, bright yellow, light blue, red, very light purple, golden yellow, darker blue, pale golden yellow and pink.  To the left, on the back, the tail of a cat, its back to us, rests in the gutter of an open book, marking a place.  A mug on the right is next to the book and cat.

On the opening and closing endpapers is a delicate pattern in green and purple; a blend of hexagons and stars within them.  On the right of the opening endpapers is a book plate reading:

This book belongs to

with a book beneath it.  This book appears later in the interior.

The cat is showcased again on the double-page picture for the title page.  It is resting on top of a stack of books.  Each page turn reveals a series of double-page images displaying a diverse group of people in age, race or ethnicity, and occupations, hobbies or passionate pursuits. Each one is sincerely and contentedly engaged in reading or energized by the act of reading a book.  David Small's signature lines enhance the pleasing and calm pacing.

One of my many, many favorite illustrations takes place in an empty elegant theater.  The room is darkened except for a single lamp shining in the center of the stage.  Around the darkened room we can see rows of cushioned seating on two levels.  Curtains are drawn back on box seating on both levels.  A large chandelier hangs from the ceiling.  On the stage standing in the light is a woman dressed for work.  She is holding a yellow book shouting aloud the words to the empty room.  At her feet are a bucket, mop and cleaning spray bottle.

This title, This Book of Mine written by Sarah Stewart with pictures by David Small, is indeed a tribute to books and reading but it is more.  It's an opportunity to speak with others about favorite books, old and new.  It's an opportunity to share where our favorite reading spots are.  It's a chance to connect with other readers and invite others to join the community of book lovers.  I highly recommend this book for your professional and personal collections.

To read more about David Small (and Sarah Stewart, too) and their other work, please follow the link attached to David's name.  At the publisher's website you can view several interior images.  Many of my favorite ones are shown.

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