Quote of the Month

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

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Looking For The Sunshine Side

Given the current circumstances around the world, it is safe to say with whatever people are coping, it is increasing exponentially hour by hour.  Every emotion, every incident is magnified.  Life is more terrifying.  Life is more beautiful.  Even time seems skewed; a week takes on the character of a month.

Into this comes a book revealing all the nooks and crannies in which we may find ourselves as we travel through our lives.  That's Life! (Little, Brown and Company, March 31, 2020) written by Ame Dyckman with illustrations by Cori Doerrfeld is a roller coaster ride exploring a range of experiences.  You will easily see yourself in the pages of this book.

Who could that be?

Life has shown up, as it always does, when we are completely unprepared.  We are instructed to be careful because Life is unpredictable.  In fact, it is downright wacky at times.

There is no guidebook for Life; learning is done on the run at a fast pace.  The thing is, Life can and does take you anywhere (literally) at any time.    We must appreciate these unplanned stops and starts.  What we need to realize about Life, too, is to expect the unexpected.

If Life bumps us off track, we swerve and resume.  Life continually reminds us our day to day situations are a series of opposites.  Life gives us something unsavory and we have the ability to make it delectable.  Let's be honest, Life is painful, but it doesn't stop.  Neither should we.

Every second is to be enjoyed because Life is finite.  In those rare moments of calm, Life will share how extraordinary and breathtaking it is.  For this reason, embrace Life, the results will fill your heart.

With the same glorious moments of laughter and light found in our lives, author Ame Dyckman delivers in full measure in her newest title.  It's wonderfully inventive (and perfect) to have life become a character with a capital letter.  This allows for the shift in contrasts Life delivers to be insightful but also humorous.  Here is a passage.

Don't waste a second.
Life is short, but---


Life, uh . . . finds a way.

The pristine white canvas on the open dust jacket (I'm working with an F & G.  My copy has not arrived, yet) joyfully highlights exuberant Life jumping out of the delivery box.  This illustrator's interpretation of the narrative will have you experiencing happiness at every page turn.  All the craziness of life is embodied in the fuzzy, constantly-in-motion figure.

To the left, on the back, the showcased protagonist, a wide-eyed little girl, is getting a kiss from Life, like we do from our canine companions.  She is putting on her coat, getting ready for an adventure.  The text reads:

Meet Life! Fun, messy, and MORE!

Cori Doerrfeld rendered these lively, colorful illustrations

in digital paint.

On the opening endpapers across a cloud-studded pale blue sky a red-and-white striped parachute is carrying the box labeled LIFE to its destination.  Two curious eyes peer from the inside of the box.  On the closing endpapers words of invitation are placed in a similar sky as multiple boxes drift in the air over a group of curious and excited children.  Life is busy at work, paper and pencil in hand, with the initial girl.

Each space is utilized by Cori Doerrfeld in her visual narrative.  On the verso page, the parachute releases the box upon the child's doorstep.  We see her kneeling on a chair at a table, making a list, on the title page.

Each image elevates the words of the story.  White space is used with excellence drawing our attention to the child and a specific moment.  These visuals are in various sizes dependent upon the desired emphasis.  For a single word of text and one loud sound effect we are gifted with a double-page picture.  When the story mentions you never know what

Life's gonna throw at you,

Life is shown throwing a Safari hat, paddle and life jacket to the girl.  This leads beautifully into the next scene of a wild raft trip and the upbeat wording.  Readers will delight in all the expressive facial features.

One of my many, many favorite illustrations is a response to the phrase---

When Life gives you lemons---

The girl has opened a box given to her by Life.  She's grinning at what she finds inside but Life is larger than life in this scene.  Life is giving, a nod in disguise, to a famous comedian.  This is one of those times when an illustrator tucks something in a book which speaks directly to older readers but also opens the door to a discussion.  I love this!

You could not ask for a more important book which addresses the issue of all the ups and downs life hands to all ages day after day.  In That's Life written by Ame Dyckman with illustrations by Cori Doerrfeld challenges are presented and they are countered with marvelous solutions being offered.  I highly recommend this book for your personal and professional collections.

To learn more about Ame Dyckman and Cori Doerrfeld and their other work, please access their websites by following the links attached to their names.  Ame Dyckman posts all kinds of goodness on Twitter daily.  Cori Doerrfeld has accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  At the publisher's website you can join in the That's Life fun by participating in quiz.  Perhaps you will be amazed at the results.  Ame Dyckman and Cori Doerrfeld chat with writer and illustrator Jena Benton at her site.  Maria Marshall interviews Cori Doerrfeld on her site, July 2019.

Get to Know THAT'S LIFE! from LB School on Vimeo.

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