Quote of the Month

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

Friday, March 11, 2022

Links In The Chain Of Story

We carry them with us day after day.  They are a collection of what we taste, smell, hear, see, and touch.  They are a blend of perceptions and beliefs, questions and answers.  They arrive unbidden or on demand.  They are now and then and when.  They are us and all those who are a part of us.

Every second of every day is a memory.  Some are spectacular.  Others, at the time, seem ordinary, but in reality they may be the most valuable.  In Also (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, February 8, 2022 written and illustrated by E. B. Goodale, this talented creator explores memories, family, and shared love.

Today, I am at my gramma's house,
high on the hill,
amongst the blueberry bushes,

And also . . .

Daughters and mothers enjoy a day together. Each one is in this present, but also remembering
another time.  The youngest on the hill is recalling a camping trip with her mother and the quiet all around her.

The grandmother, who sees her granddaughter on the hill, in her mind sees herself as a little girl.  On that day, a bunny meant she had wet shoes for the rest of the day.  The youngest girl's mother is looking for her.

She is thinking of another day during blueberry season; when her sister made her laugh as they separated blueberries together in their mother's kitchen.  Next to the little girl on the hill, today, is her grandmother's cat, Nutmeg.  Nutmeg has memories, too.  On this day, she remembers being a tiny kitten with no home until someone touched her and invited her into their home.

Since that day with the little girl on the hill filled with blueberry bushes with her grandmother looking out her window at her and her mother on the hill seeking her, years have come and gone.  Now that day is a story you are reading, now.  As the little girl now a young woman writes, she remembers many pasts and paths folding together.  They are connected by ties never to be broken.

With her writing, E. B. Goodale has given readers a profound and meaningful story.  With a single word, she asks us to not only pause in the reading of the book, but to personally pause in that moment.  How do we connect with what we are reading?

Each description of then and now is vivid and sensory.  Each character's memory is bound to another individual with great affection.  An inviting cadence is supplied with a repeated structure for now and for then for each character. Here is a passage.

. . .she is remembering sorting blueberries
in the breakfast nook of her mama's kitchen.
Her sister was making her giggle.

Not only are we introduced to the characters in the story on the front, right side, of the open dust jacket, but we also are given a hint as to how E. B. Goodale designates the difference between now and then.  The red bird whose looping flight acts as a placeholder for the text is seen in every illustration in this title.  Seeing the characters from this perspective helps us to feel as though we are right behind them, ready to enter the story.

On the other side of the spine is a pale golden wash for a background.  There we see all the characters nestled together in the grass and flowers.  The red bird flies in place above them.  The text here reads:

An ode to the memories we make . . .

. . .and also those we make them with.

The book case takes us into a different then and now.  Those we see on the dust jacket are now in the past.  To the left of them, down the hill, is Gramma's house.  The majority of the case is in shades of purple.  The text is placed in colors signifying now.

The opening and closing endpapers are an intricate pattern of delicate leafy branches in hues of purple on a white canvas.  This pattern also is the first page on the left and the final page on the right.  On the title page the text is in purple.  A large red bird flies between the text.

The two-page pictures throughout the book were rendered by E. B. Goodale 

on kitakata paper using monoprint, gouache, and blueberry ink.

The points of view shift to elevate the text.  At times, we are given a larger view setting.  Our eyes are then drawn to a special point in another scene.  And then, sometimes we are very close to a character.  We are so close we feel as though we can reach out and touch them.

When the narrative alters to now and goes back to when the writer is a little girl, the red bird acts as a thread to the past.  Its flight pattern opens the past to allow the present being referenced to appear in full color.  This bird leads us to the final two-page image revealing its importance.

One of my many favorite illustrations is when the little girl's mother is remembering a day filled with laughter.  She and her sister are seated on opposite benches at the breakfast nook table.  They are separating the blueberries.  The sister has placed a row of blueberries in her mouth looking like she has a blueberry smile.  She has her hands on either side of her cheeks like big ears.  The little girl's grandmother watches her daughters by peeking around the doorway to the kitchen.  Outside the breakfast nook window, the red bird is eating at a feeder.  This picture, a memory, is in shades of purple.

Written and illustrated by E. B. Goodale, Also is a rare book, rich in its presentation of memory and our stories.  It celebrates all parts of our lives and others' lives and how we are connected.  I highly recommend you include a copy of this book in both your personal and professional collections.

To learn more about E. B. Goodale and her other work, please access her website by following the link attached to her name.  E. B. Goodale has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  This book, process art, and other images are showcased at author, reviewer, and blogger Julie Danielson's Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

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