Quote of the Month

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

Thursday, May 6, 2021

From The Start, Heart To Heart

When you least expect it, but need it the most, there it is.  You might be cresting a hill on a walk with your dog and the sight you see takes your breath away.  As you look through the different shades of spring budding on trees spread before you, in the distance hues of blue water like glass extend to an opposite shore. The shadows and light cast an enchanting spell on this moment.  There is silence.  Even your canine companion stills.  What if you had not glanced that way?

This beauty on this day is a symbol and a sign.  In What the World Could Make: A Story of Hope (Roaring Brook Press, May 4, 2021) written by Holly M. McGhee with illustrations by Pascal Lemaitre, two friends find the best life has to offer in the simple things given to them as they explore their world.  Each season brings the duo closer together, bound in mutual affection.

The friends thought it a wonder---
winter white flakes a gift from the sky.

Side by side they sat, as flakes fell on them.  They were amazed at the beauty.  Bunny wanted the snow to never stop.  Rabbit asked if Bunny was sure.  Bunny really wanted the memory to last always.  And Rabbit understood.

So, Rabbit made a snowball for Bunny.  It was large and perfectly shaped like their tails.  Now Bunny would have the memory of the winter white flakes always.

With the arrival of spring, Rabbit and Bunny were enticed by the colors and smells of lilacs.  During this season it was Rabbit who wanted the memory to last always.  As the most beloved kind of friends do for each other, Bunny made something extra special for Rabbit.  

Summer offered a delectable, tangy and crisp treat.  This present was presented by warmth, water, and tiny grains of ground rock and minerals.  As the days shortened, the rich glow of autumn supplied them with the perfect place to do what bunnies and rabbits do best---


That's what Bunny and Rabbit did, wondering at the wonder this year made for them.  

And then---

The words written by Holly M. McGhee in this story radiate from the pages, wrapping around you in a hug you want to last forever.  The friendship between Bunny and Rabbit is precious and pure, shown by their willingness to make a shared moment never end for the other.  Through the rhythmic sentences, repetition of phrases and conversations, we learn as they have.  Hope, like their love, is where you choose to find it.  It is provided each and every day and night of our lives.  Here is a passage from the story.

"I know what you mean,"
said Bunny this time.
"The kind of forever where
you remember it even after 
it ends!"

When you look at the front of the open and matching dust jacket and book case, you have questions.  Two rabbits, bunnies, with their backs to us are facing the sky, future, rosy with the rising (or setting) sun.  A field filled with possibilities stretches from them to the bottom of the jacket and cover.  On the front of the jacket the text and friends are varnished.

To the left of the spine, the back, there is a crisp white canvas.  Here, in the center, Bunny and Rabbit walk and splash, paw in paw, through shallow water.  On either side of them is a treat they will soon taste.

On the opening and closing endpapers is a delicate mint green.  On the title page, the image of Rabbit and Bunny sitting in the tree is placed between the text.  All the illustrations were rendered with

pen and ink and Adobe Photoshop

by Pascal Lemaitre.  One of the first things you notice about Pascal Lemaitre's artwork in this book is his superb use of space.  For many of the scenes Bunny and Rabbit are small, surrounded by a natural setting.  His fine lines and limited elements in each illustration convey a real sense of fascination.  The image sizes range from double-page pictures to a collection of smaller visuals on two pages and back to double-page images before this is repeated.  It is a pleasing flow enhancing the narrative.  The splendor of each season is portrayed in wonderful color choices.

His intricate details add to the endearing quality of the friends and their experiences.  Each of them is wearing colored scarfs with a white R on the red one for Rabbit and a white B on the green one for Bunny.  The quality of emotion conveyed with their eyebrows, eyes, button noses and mouths leaves no doubt in readers' minds as to the state of their minds and hearts. 

One of my many, many favorite illustrations is a double-page picture.  Across the top of the pages is a light purple wash with plump snowflakes falling in it.  Below this is white.  On the left side Rabbit is holding a large snowball and reaching toward Bunny.  Falling snow is shown on Rabbit and the slightly shadowed ground around her.  To the right of the gutter is Bunny.  She stands looking at Rabbit, expectant and happy, her paws clasped in front of her.  To the right of her is an evergreen tree laden with snow.  

When you finish reading this book, What the World Could Make: A Story of Hope written by Holly M. McGhee with illustrations by Pascal Lemaitre, you find yourself smiling.  In fact, you've been smiling the whole time and perhaps, you might be a bit teary by the tenderness expressed in words and artwork in this title.  Is there ever a time when we don't need hope?  Is there ever a time when we don't need to share the simple, freely given gifts of nature with someone who understands us completely?  I can't imagine a collection, personal or professional, without a copy of this book.

To learn more about Holly M. McGhee and Pascal Lemaitre and their other work, please access their respective websites by following the link attached to their names.  Holly M. McGhee has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Pascal Lemaitre has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  This book is featured with an interview at Kathleen Temean's Writing and Illustrating.  At the publisher's website you can view interior illustrations.  

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