Quote of the Month

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

Saturday, March 19, 2022

In Honor Of Uniqueness

When you are taught to believe different is a good thing, you tend to look at the differences of others and differences in yourself with respect.  Those things making us unique are treasures.  Sometimes they make life more challenging, but there are those, who if not kindred spirits, understand our uniqueness.  They will respond with compassion.

Through their understanding and compassion a lasting bond usually forms.  In Midnight & Moon (Tundra, February 8, 2022) written by Kelly Cooper with illustrations by Daniel Miyares, readers are privy to the story of several of these beautiful, unbreakable bonds.  In reading this book, we realize we can be the special individual needed by another even if we are one who needs help more often than others.

tucked into the shadows of the poplar trees
like one of winter's last snowdrifts.

The child and her mother watch as the foal struggles to navigate its surroundings.  By its actions, it appears to have diminished vision.  Another foal, black, comes to its aid, its body pressing against the white foal.

The girl observes the world around her and expresses it through her drawing.  When her mother asks her what they will name the two new foals, she writes her answer.  By her actions, it appears the child is unable to speak.  

Moon can hear what the other horses cannot.  His sense of hearing is amplified.  When he is unable to go where he needs to, he waits for Midnight to press his body close to his.  Like Moon, the little girl has an increased ability to hear.

The two horses care for each other through touch and the whispers of nickers.  At school, Clara finds friendship in a boy named Jack like Moon was found by Midnight.  The seasons shift and the horses now need to come to the mother and her daughter for food.  Moon comes to Clara where she has a pile of oats for him and him alone.

One day dark clouds gather in a winter sky.  The horses move about uneasily.  Inside the school, only Clara does not do show and tell.  Outside, the storm is so sudden the horses are confused and the school bus nearly passes Clara's house in the blinding snow.  Clara and her mother discover the horses are not at the barn.  In the middle of a blizzard, will a child with no voice bring home a horse that cannot see?

Through the lyrical words penned by Kelly Cooper, we walk with Moon, Midnight, and their herd.  We shadow Clara and Jack.  As they move through the seasons, so do we.  Kelly Cooper's observations of the world around her are evident in the detailed descriptions that make the reading of this narrative sensory and intimate.  Here are two passages on a single page.

Moon can't see, but he hears sounds that other horses
ignore.  The eggshell crack of a meadow lark hatching.  
The glide of a salamander into the pond.  He knows
every horse in the herd by the sound of its hooves.

When Moon doesn't know where he is, he whinnies
and waits.  Thud-thud, thud-thud.  He feels Midnight's
cheek against his shoulder.

The scene on the front, right, of the open dust jacket continues across the spine to the far left edge.  The sunset sky mingles with the increasing darkness, a sprinkling of stars, a crescent moon, and a few snowflakes.  The snowflakes foreshadow a dramatic highpoint in the narrative.  Even though Clara runs toward Midnight and Moon on the right, she sits with Jack on a slight rise in the grass on the far left.  This helps us to understand the beauty of the relationship she has with Jack and the horses.  

A near magical but entirely realistic image spans the book case.  Most of the left side indicates the forest.  Midnight and Moon are facing right.  Their bodies are positioned on either side of the spine.  Moon leans toward the outstretched hand of Clara.  In the break of the trees, a glow raditates above Clara and into a sky replete with warm hues.

On the opening endpapers it is a snowy depiction; a you-can-hardly-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face snowstorm.  There is a change in the color on the right.  When you turn to the closing endpapers, that color, spot glows, is replaced with Moon, Midnight, and the other horses in a line.

On the title page, artist Daniel Miyares shows the home of Clara and her mother.  The barn is in the background.  Trees blooming with spring blossoms are to the left and right of the house.

The illustrations in this title were 

painted with gouache on paper

There are double-page pictures, single-page visuals and smaller images surrounded by lots of white space.  We are shown wide vistas and brought close to the children and the horses.  These illustrations are atmospheric and emotionally-charged. The color palette and use of light and shadow is fabulous.

One of my many favorite illustrations is the two-page image for the above-noted text.  On the left, we are shown Moon with Midnight pressing his cheek into Moon.  We are close to them with only their heads and a portion of their necks visible.  Around them are layers of grass and leaves.  In the upper-right hand corner of this left side, nestled in the grass, is a bird's nest with three speckled meadowlark eggs.  Along the bottom to the left and right of the gutter the herd of horses runs against the warm and pastel colors of an afternoon or morning sky.

This book, Midnight & Moon written by Kelly Cooper with artwork by Daniel Miyares, is an affirmation of the significance and value of honoring differences.  It reminds us friendships can form through mutual respect between animals, humans and humans and animals.  I highly recommend you place a copy of this title in both your personal and professional collections.

To learn more about Daniel Miyares and his other work, please follow the link attached to his name to access his website.  Kelly Cooper has an account on Instagram.  Daniel Miyares has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  At Penguin Random House, you can view interior images.  Kelly Cooper and Daniel Miyares are interviewed together at Maria Marshall's site.

No comments:

Post a Comment