Quote of the Month

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

Friday, February 28, 2020

A Transformation

With the arrival and departure of each month differences are noted.  Some are subtle, only evident by keen observers.  Others are more obvious.  With each seasonal shift the length of daylight and darkness lessens and grows in proportion.  More darkness signals rest and more light announces rebirth.  Wild creatures carefully watched declare changes with their presence or absence. 

The newest of three titles (Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn August 16, 2016, Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter September 5, 2017) celebrating seasons, Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring (GodwinBooks, Henry Holt and Company, February 18, 2020 written and illustrated by Kenard Pak, follows a boy and his dog as they walk and send out greetings.  They move and mark aspects of these two seasons.  They do not go alone.

Hello, winter night.

Hello, snow.

Hello. From high up in the sky.

Snow continues the conversation with the boy and his pooch pal, telling of its actions and where its flakes fall.  Strolling past a pond covered in ice, the child bids the fish hello.  And they reply. 

An empty greenhouse draws attention to its own discoveries.  A winter brook, footprints left in the snow, trees and a nest acknowledge the young explorer and his dog.  A wild winter storm voices its own opinion.  And then it stops.  Silence.

Looking out his window in the morning, those places visited the previous night glow in the dawn's light rising behind neighboring hills.  A new day means a new walk is in the offing.  The effects of the previous night's weather diminish in the warmth of the sunlight.

Multiple salutations address all the changes.  Heat helps to melt.  Heat helps buds to unfurl.  Heat calls to sleeping animals.  All the welcome words bring forth responses.  The joy of a new time reverberates across the landscape.  A boy and his dog run to meet spring.

The technique of using greetings and responsive greetings in the narrative by Kenard Pak creates a personal experience for the reader.  We travel in faith and appreciation with the child and his canine companion.  The replies from what most would consider unable to speak enrich the dialogue and elevate the magic to be found in our world.  Here is a passage. 

Hello, glass house.

Hello.  I'm cold inside.
The swaying trees through my glass panels are like tall, slender ghosts.
The last logs are draped with snow. 

When you open the dust jacket the image spans from the edge of the left flap to the edge of the right flap.  The illustration on the book case matches that of the jacket.  From left to right we move through a chilly wintry scene in the country toward a small community as the snow falls.  As the scene crosses the spine a few new leaves appear on a tree as the landscape warms with the changing season, sun and clear sky.  Shades of gray turn to hues of green.  Clearly the two walkers are enjoying their adventure. 

On the opening and closing endpapers a steely blue gray provides the background.  On the title page a single sapling on top of a hill catches falling snowflakes.  Kenard Pak

used watercolor and pencil, digitally enhanced, to create the illustrations for this book.

Each picture graces two pages with the exception of four full-page pictures.  There is a stunning wordless visual deep in the night before sunrise.

The narrative begins in the evening with winter colors darker than during daylight which supplies a better contrast to the lightness of the new day after the storm and the coming of spring.  Each image presents a different perspective depending on who is the observer.  We view scenes from the boy's and dog's viewpoints, from snow's point of view, or from the fishes' sight.  Sometimes all we see of the boy and his dog are their feet and paws.

Each page turn asks readers to pause.  We look at each setting carefully noting the layers and what Kenard Pak chooses to place with bolder colors and those he chooses to fade.  Each element is placed in each picture with intention.

One of my many, many favorite illustrations is a bird's eye perspective of the boy's home and surrounding area.  From here we can see his house, the pond, the greenhouse, the brook, and plentiful trees.  On the left snow still covers portions of the grass, trees, and roof of the house.  Our eyes move to notice the brook, greenhouse and pond before crossing the gutter.  A blue jay and blackbirds soar in the sky on the right.  Beneath them the boy and his white dog race through a clearing.  You can feel the surge of joy at all the new beginnings visible in the change of colors.  There are shades of green everywhere you look.

Reading Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring written and illustrated by Kenard Pak is a soothing journey from season to season.  It invites readers to take their own walks and greet what they see.  It welcomes them to imagine responses.  It enhances the value of observation and appreciation for our natural world and its cycles.  This could be used successfully to promote discussions and enhance specific themes of study or storytimes.  You'll want to place a copy of this in your personal and professional collections.

To learn more about Kenard Pak and his other work, please follow the link attached to his name to access his website.  Kenard Pak has accounts on Instagram and Twitter.  Here is a link to an interview at Art Of The Picture Book.  At the publisher's website you can view interior images.

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