Thursday, May 28, 2020

Ever-Present Pal

To be faced with something different and untried is a challenge.  Depending on the task at hand, past endeavors, and previous successes, what is before us can be easy, hard, or somewhere in the middle.  We assess the situation, prepare for possible outcomes, and then proceed with caution or sometimes complete abandon. 

As we approach this undertaking, we are usually unaware of an unseen partner at our side.  The Magical Yet (Disney Hyperion, April 14, 2020) written by Angela DiTerlizzi with art by Lorena Alvarez discloses to all the true nature of this presence.  It never wavers from its dedication to us.

There are days when your dreams haven't come true,
or you're upset by the things you can't do.

The protagonist has attempted and failed to ride her new bike.  She has wavered, wobbled, taken a tumble, and bent her front wheel.  Trudging home, she vows to never ride a bike again.  Walking is far safer.  In the midst of her despair, she meets

The Magical Yet!

She discovers this being has been with her since birth.  She realizes it has offered encouragement.  Yet shows her up when she's down.  Yet dares her to do what she has never done.  Yet promotes thinking beyond ordinary, aiming for extraordinary.

Yet points the girl toward a plan.  Yet helps to fix that which is broken.  Yet knows practice is necessary.  Yet knows there will be errors, but there will also be successes.

If you are a hopeful melodic musician, stunning sports star, wizard wordsmith, marvelous muralist, or dazzling dancer, Yet strengthens your resolve to never give up, regardless of the time it takes.  You, wonderful you, can do what you desire to do.  There is another secret about Yet; one you can hold in your heart.  First to recognize it, you must start.

There is an undercurrent of hope on every page of this narrative.  Angela DiTerlizzi uses a lilting, lyrical series of couplets to fashion a flowing narrative.  Woven into the story of the young character who does not at first succeed in riding her new bike, are examples of other young people pursuing their dreams.  Another wondrous component in this book is making Yet a character, an individual.  Each person's Yet is seen as a positive power in their lives.  Here is a passage.

Tongue twisters twisted
your tongue in a knot?
Yet says, "Keep trying and practice
---a lot!"

If you are in need of happiness, looking at the open dust jacket is certain to bring some to your soul.  On the front, the right, the bicycle rider, wide-eyed and smiling has benefited from the optimism supplied by her Yet.  The Yet, hitching a ride on her helmet, is enjoying the results of its wisdom.  This scene continues on the other side of the spine.  Two children are running over the rolling hills.  One is playing a lute.  The other is holding a high-flying kite shaped like a bird.  The kite, the title text and the Yet are decorated in glitter.  Our main character is varnished.  Yet elements on both flaps are adorned in glitter.

A fantastical image spreads across the book case on either side of the spine.  Within a series of intricate insets and abstract shapes we are introduced to four Yets.  Each one is a different brightly colored hue and performing a feat desired by their human.  This is enchanting!

Using a two-color palette on the opening and closing endpapers illustrator Lorena Alvarez portrays seven diverse young people beginning and continuing their most passionate endeavors.  They, except for the child on the bike on the sidewalk, are shown in windows of various shapes.  A series of exquisite designs are part of this wall of possibilities.  It is pleasing to see them again at the end, older and more proficient in their pursuits.

Each illustration rendered using Procreate extends over two pages, edge to edge, on a single page with a white frame, in a smaller circle, or as a small group on a single page. These choices of size contribute to the pacing and the pictorial interpretations of the narrative by Lorena Alvarez.  Readers will enjoy seeing the delicate Yets among the vibrant colors in the landscapes and settings.  (Mulan likes that the main character's pup grows up and stays with them.)  Each image is highly animated, but the wonder of the first encounter with the Yet is stunning.

One of my many, many favorite illustrations is a double-page picture.  In this scene the girl with her broken bike is facing left as she watches other children at work in a room.  Each one is accompanied by their Yet.  In the lower left-hand corner, a girl is making a doghouse following a blueprint she made that is hanging on the wall.  Between her and our protagonist is a child on a ladder making geometric art designs.  There is a scholar, a musician, a knitter, and a kite flyer.  The tools of their trades are shown in separate shelves.  The kite is huge and floating across the top of the right side.  This is a place where goals are met.  This is a place where children from all cultures engage in their heart's desire.

When you hold The Magical Yet words by Angela DiTerlizzi with art by Lorena Alvarez, you hold hope in your hands.  You feel as though anything at any age is possible if you remember to value the existence of your Yet.  This title will be valuable in a range of thematic storytimes.  Be sure to read it as a bedtime story so dreamers will know, as they fall asleep, dreams do come true.  I highly recommend this title.

To learn more about Angela DiTerlizzi and Lorena Alvarez and their other work, please follow the links attached to their names to access their respective websites.  Angela DiTerlizzi has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.  Lorena Alvarez has accounts on Instagram and TwitterScholastic's Ambassador of School Libraries, John Schumacher, showcased this title and interviewed both creators on his site, Watch. Connect. Read.  The publisher has a PDF you can print and color of the Yet.

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