Quote of the Month

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

Monday, April 5, 2021

Hearts, Minds, And Hands

Prior to employment in what would be his last position, he worked in construction.  After that, every working hour for forty-one years, this man labored in the same factory.  He was a welder, a pipefitter, and a machinist.  If something did not work as efficiently as it should, he would build a better one.  He, like so many, was a thinker and a doer.

In a wonderfully poetic and slice-of-life artwork portrait, this man and countless other women and men are honored.  Written by Lisa Wheeler with illustrations by Loren Long, Someone Builds The Dream (Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, March 23, 2021) is a journey through the creative process.  It shows how doers elevate the ideas of thinkers.  The skills of many form finished beauty.

All across this great big world
jobs are getting done

by many hands in many lands.
It takes much more than one.

On a board with pencil, T-square, three-sided ruler, compass, and tracing paper or with a digital program, architects design and draw places for others to reside, roam, or pursue their own futures.  From board or computer, others take trees, shaping them into lumber. and securing them into the architect's dream.  A common purpose units this crew.

Bridges spanning from one point to another point are developed through academic adeptness by engineers.  Sturdy steel holds them steady.  This steel is made by the hands of those who dig, heat, melt, pour, and fuse.  From the imagination of a sculptor comes forms.  Those forms are fashioned from miniature to majestic into a fountain.  Excavators, concrete specialists, plumbers, and welders are the company of achievers.  

From the studies of scientists serving our planet comes the three-armed wind turbines.  They are erected by those puzzle finishers who fasten pieces together to generate clean energy.  The next time you visit an area of thrill rides and fascinating sights, remember the efforts of someone who dared to visualize and devise.  Remember those who took those visualizations and plans and made them a reality.

Now, pause for a few minutes.  What do you hold in your hands? It comes from the minds of creators, one working with words and the other working with paints and pencils.  From there it travels to a group who take the text and art and place it on paper.

Each building, each bridge, each sculpture, each giant wind gatherer, each park and each book you see, enter and use comes from thinkers and doers.  Each thing made by hearts, minds, and hands is a sign of hope.  Hope in humans who gather and work together.

You are caught in the rhythm of words written by Lisa Wheeler as soon as you read the first two sentences.  The rhyming cadence is enhanced with each featured dreamer's description followed by the word . . . But.  It continues with the same sentence ending the actions taken by those who make the dream a reality.  This repetition of specific words is a welcome refrain.  It is captivating, bringing readers into this song for all workers.  Here is a passage.

Someone works to dig the trench,
lay the drains, solder seams.

Someone needs to plumb the pipes.
Someone has to build the dream. 

Strength is what you see on the front, right, of the open dust jacket.  It shines in the steel of the bridge and in the stance of the worker.  The angles and lines on both are similar.  Each one is fortified for endurance in order to accomplish their goals.  We are presented here, and throughout the book, with a full-color palette rooted in realism.  The light in the clouds indicates both a beginning and an ending.  The text is varnished.

On the left, back, is a panoramic view of the placement and construction of wind turbines.  We are up and away from the work.  The transporter trucks and heavy-duty machinery are tiny, as are the people.

On the book case is an image spanning from the far left, over the spine, and ending on the far right.  It's a closeup of the bridge being built.  We see a crane operator, a foreman, a welder, and three other construction people directing the placement of a beam.  The clouds, sky and mountainous landscape in the background are breathtaking.  Loren Long shifts the perspective from left to right.  As our eyes move, he brings us closer and closer to the activity centered on the right. 

The opening and closing endpapers are a steel blue.  Readers are greeted with a row of construction vehicles, from left to right, extending from the center left to the far right, on the verso and title pages.  Each image in this book was rendered

by hand on illustration board using acrylics, colored pencils, and whatever dust and dog hair happened to be floating around the studio.

The alternating double-page pictures, full-page pictures, and pictures crossing the gutter pair perfectly with the narrative.  Each one appearing more powerful than the next.  The details are incredible, as is the animation in certain scenes.  Careful readers will see how a pictorial story begins and concludes with the first and final illustrations.

What is fabulous is the blend of people shown in each visual.  Women and men working alongside each other are inspirational.  Readers will be happy to see the inclusion of people from all walks of life.  They will also love seeing cat and dog companions in many of the images.  

One of my many, many favorite illustrations is a double-page picture.  In the background numerous workers stand in buckets lifted by cranes to complete wiring and lighting.  Construction vehicles chug from position to position.  Metal workers attach sheets to a frame. (A dinosaur-themed amusement park is being constructed.)  A man in the foreground on the right pulls cable from a large spool resting on a metal scaffold.  As if we are standing in front of them, a worker nearly fills the frame on the left.  Dressed in a t-shirt, hooded sweatshirt and a yellow safety vest, a crew member holds, with both hands, a coil of cord over their right shoulder.  A bandana is visible under their silver hardhat.  The look on their face is one of quiet determination and dedication.  The upper portion of their face is in shadow from the brim of the hat.

For every dreamer and builder, for every thinker and doer, this title is for you.  Someone Builds The Dream written by Lisa Wheeler with illustrations by Loren Long is a magnificent depiction of how things rise from ideas to become visible to all.  I highly recommend this title for your personal and professional collections.  Gift it to a builder you know.

To learn more about Lisa Wheeler and Loren Long and their other work, please follow the link attached to their names to access their websites.  Lisa Wheeler has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Loren Long has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  At the publisher's website you can view the verso and title pages.  I know you will enjoy this conversation between Lisa Wheeler and Loren Long about this book highlighted in Publishers Weekly.

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