Quote of the Month

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

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Dear Readers

Stitched in librarians' hearts are the words

the right book for the right reader at the right time.

When this happens, the world of that reader and those around them changes.  In their excitement at reading this book, they read it to others or speak about it with others.  These others in turn do the same.  Words are powerful.  They are even more transformative in books.

It is also said this purpose is shared by all those devoted to books and reading.  It is a gift happily given again and again.  Yours In Books (Cameron Kids, September 21, 2021) written by Julie Falatko with illustrations by Gabriel Alborozo is an endearing correspondence between two individuals,  One is a bookshop owner.  The other is someone seeking solitude to read.  During the course of their written conversations, we grow in understanding of the power of words lovingly written and illustrated in books.

Pine: A Bookshop
Knobby Pine Northeast of the Big Fir

Dear Sirs:

I received your marvelous catalog in the mail and
spent many long hours reading the descriptions
of all the books.

Owl T. Fencepost has requested a book be sent to his address at the 

Top of Oak
Near the Clearing
and the Noisy Small Animals.

He wants to soundproof his home so he can read in peace and quiet.  B. Squirrel, the bookshop owner, replies to Owl his desired title is out of stock.  Is there another title he wishes to purchase?

Well, Owl has decided to vacant his premises and wants to locate on an island far, far away from the Top of Oak.  As the second title is also out of stock, B. Squirrel decides to send a book encouraging Owl T. Fencepost to stay where he is.  You get the real sense of Owl's frustration in his next letter.  As he reads another book aloud, the noisy neighborhood children appear and want him to read it aloud to them.  He does this but writes it will be for the last time.  

The other thing readers will notice is the shift in the letter writing between B. Squirrel and Owl T. Fencepost.  Their greetings and closings are becoming friendly rather than professional.  A relationship is forming.  Instead of a book on fence building, B. Squirrel sends Owl T. a book on cooking and baking.

Each book B. Squirrel sends is having the opposite effect Owl T. wants in response to the boisterous children.  The evident humor and budding trust in their letter writing increases.  An invitation is issued by Bessie.  She wants Owl to visit the bookshop.  In the next several exchanges between Bessie and Owl, something is being planned by the children who now fill Owl's abode.  The messages between Owl and Bessie get shorter as anticipation and excitement build.  Books, reading, and most importantly, children, can make our lives better.  They did for a bookshop owner and an individual who thought he wanted to read in solitude.

There is an art to letter writing.  That art is even more evident when an author pens letters written between two characters.  Julie Falatko through the exchange of letters allows us to participate in the developing relationship between Bessie and Owl.

This friendship forms through their shared love of books.  In the titles of the requested books and those sent by Bessie to Owl, we are recipients of Julie Falatko's wonderful sense of finding and sharing joy and her keen observation skills of relationships.  Here are portions of a letter to Bessie from Owl and her reply.

However, the aromas of warm food heating on
my stove brought all the noisy neighborhood
children to my doorstep.  Please send The
Busy Owl's Guide to Food That Will Not Entice
Neighborhood Children to Stop By Uninvited.

The book you requested does not seem to exist.
Is it possible you were making a joke?  If so, I
am delighted.  It sounds like you and the children
might enjoy 50 Fanciful Biscuits and Cakes, which
I have enclosed, of course.

When you look at the open dust jacket, you get a preview of what artist Gabriel Alborozo imagined when reading the manuscript written by Julie Falatko.  To the left of the spine, on the back, is a close-up view of Owl T. Fencepost's writing desk.  He has started a letter to the bookshop.  His pen rests on the paper with his glasses nearby.  Stacks of books can be seen on either side as well as a vase with flowers and a matching teacup and saucer.  Through a picture window we get his view from the Top of Oak.

To the right of the spine, on the front, we see Owl and Bessie reading together in her bookshop with some of the children.  Do you see the snail in the lower right-hand corner?  It is a postal worker.  (I love the nod to snail mail.)  Another enchanting aspect are the two birds holding the paper, letter writing paper, with the text.

The book case is designed to be a book wrapped in brown paper, tied with two-tone string.  The bow is on the front along with a cancelled stamp.  The cancellation is for Oak Post Office.  A crowned owl is featured on the stamp.

Two distinct scenes are showcased on the opening and closing endpapers.  They are fine-lined drawings in black on creme.  The first is an overview of the oak in the lower, right-hand corner and the bookshop in the upper, left-hand corner.  Included are a pathway with a bridge over a stream, other trees, a pond, and a playground.  We zoom in to Owl's tree on the closing endpapers.  It is large and fills nearly all the right side, crossing the gutter as the treetops spread to the left.  Owl stands in his doorway holding a book as the children play below him.  Owl and Bessie, each holding a book, stand together on the title page.

These full-color images vary in size and perspective.  Many of them are double-page pictures with the letter placed on the side opposite most of the illustration.  Sometimes, for the purpose of pacing, single pages are devoted to the letters and their writers.  And to heighten the expectations of events to come, smaller visuals are grouped two to a page for several pages.  These illustrations reveal the personalities of Bessie and Owl in the descriptive and included details.  You will be thrilled with two wordless, double-page pictures.

One of my favorite illustrations is a double-page picture.  We are inside Owl's home.  Celebratory chaos is evident.  Birds are flying.  A bunny swings on a ceiling lamp.  A tiny hedgehog clings to the broom handle held by Owl.  Other animals are scampering about the room.  Owl holds a red balloon in one claw.  Food is scattered.  Is that water on the floor?  Is that a plunger a squirrel is holding?  Is that a roll of toilet paper unraveling?

If you are of the mind one can never have too many books to read or too many friends, Yours In Books written by Julie Falatko with artwork by Gabriel Alborozo is the title for you.  Read this book for sheer enjoyment or to promote a discussion about the power of books to change lives or how letter writing can forge friendships.  This title is charming from beginning to end and should find a place on both your personal and professional bookshelves.

To discover more about Julie Falatko and Gabriel Alborozo and their other work, please access their respective websites by following the link attached to their names.  Julie Falatko has accounts on Instagram and Twitter.  Julie Falatko chats with Heidi Fiedler at Book Magic.  Gabriel Alborozo is highlighted at Words & Pictures.  After watching this video, you'll be inspired to bake or you might get lost down the rabbit hole of acorn crafts, book making crafts or tea parties on Pinterest.

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