Quote of the Month

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

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Lifting Each Other Up

Tuesday morning an article said the first of twenty-one funerals began on that date, May 31, 2022.  There will be twenty-one celebrations of life and mourning, and the worlds of those families and friends are changed forever.  On May 24, 2022 the shock of another school shooting reverberated through a community, a state, a nation, and around the world.  For parents, caregivers, and educators the weight of this latest horrific tragedy is very heavy.  The more we know about the events of that day, the more heartbreaking it becomes.  We seek to make sense, when it does not make sense.  We seek security, solace, and serenity.

My friend and colleague, John Schu, recently released a book titled The Gift of Story: Exploring the Affective Side of the Reading Life (Stenhouse Publishers, May 3, 2022).  In chapter two we learn about Story as Healer.  At the close of this chapter, John suggests books in support of the chapter's premises.  After a brief description of each title, John offers commentary about his choices.  I have gone back to this section and read two sentences in particular over and over this past week.  John says:

This story is about grief, how it can weigh us down, but how, over time, our friends can help share the burden and in the process make it smaller.

It's not dread and worry that sustain us, but rather the love we share and the memories we create that will last.

Keeping these two sentences in my mind and heart, I selected six new titles from my bins of new releases.  Previously, author Pat Zietlow Miller and author illustrator Eliza Wheeler have collaborated on two wonderful books, Wherever You Go and When You Are Brave.  Their third title, When I'm With You (Little, Brown And Company, March 1, 2022), declares, reaffirms, and pays tribute to those individuals who make us whole.

There's something that I've noticed.
Perhaps you've seen it, too . . .

Life is so much better
when it's me and you.

Sometimes it seems as though you've always had that one special companion.  Other times, you realize your relationship has grown like a well-nourished seed.  You complement each other wherever you go and whatever you do.

You see a brighter future from sharing it with this being.  You might be opposites, but together you make something beautiful.  What you need, when you need it, is provided by this forever friend.

There will be moments when things go awry, but you and this partner support each other.  You work through the less than ideal situations.  The sad and bad are not as sad and bad.

Whether you explore the new or repeat a previous adventure, it is best when experienced with a perfect pal. When you are older, nothing will change despite distance and time because nothing without this soul has reason or rhyme.  Nothing will ever separate these two.

Each time the rhyming lines in this narrative are read, the warmth of the words written by Pat Zietlow Miller wrap around you.  Her four-line lyrical observations, double couplets, speak of building bonds using two parts to an array of relationships.  She speaks of commitment, creativity, comfort, laughter, sadness, mistakes, and mending.  One abiding current threads through the entire book.  It is the word constant.  Here is a passage.

You're the hat that fits my head.
You're the hilltop for my sled.

When I sneeze,
you say, "Ah-CHOO!"
And that makes me
laugh with you.

The open and matching dust jacket and book case introduce readers to the four groups of best friends featured throughout the book.  On the front they are all enjoying the delights of a sunny day, kite flying, playing in a tree house, swinging, and having a tea party.  The two main children, the kite and string and the title text are varnished on the jacket.  To the left of the spine, on the back, the day is coming to a close.  

The pals in the tree house are sitting on a branch of the tree gazing at a pink and peach sky dotted with pink clouds.  Birds are in the background.  Butterflies flutter in the foreground.  The kite-flying friends are now seated in a hammock, arms around each other's shoulders.  They, too, are facing the setting sun.  The sun is dropping below a body of water.  The children have their backs to readers.

The opening and closing endpapers are charming visions.  They are panoramic pastoral vistas showing the four homes where the children and their families live.  On either side of the gutter are two large trees.  On either side of them are two homes.  Each of the homes are as different as the occupants.  In the background are faint outlines of rolling hills and evergreen forests.  In the foreground is the pond with a stream stretching to the right between two of the homes.

The adults are all engaged in activities as the children play.  On the opening endpapers it is daylight.  On the closing endpapers it is night.  Lights glow in the windows of the homes.  The parents are now inside each house.  A crescent moon and stars decorate the sky.  On the left side, the children (and one canine companion) gather around a crackling fire roasting marshmallows. 

These images by Eliza Wheeler were 

created using ink, watercolors, acrylic paint, wax pastels, and digital collage

On the title page, we see the seven children and the one dog at the trees setting up for a day of wonders.  This is one of many double-page pictures.  Single page illustrations cross the gutter to be joined with smaller visuals on the opposite side.  Eliza Wheeler skillfully combines two separate illustrations into a larger picture.  You will stop at every page turn to absorb all the included details.  Everywhere you look there is joy and a blend of reality and imagined reality.

One of my many favorite illustrations is a double-page picture.  It shows all the children in a magical underwater scene.  Only the outline of a fish tank in the upper, left-hand corner of the image indicates they are inside a fish tank.  Two friends wearing helmets and their regular clothing are cleaning.  A ray is smiling as it is dusted.  The two tea-party pals are feeding the fish and carrying a huge seaweed cupcake to an octopus.  Two other companions are caring for the underwater flowers and seahorses.  The final child is wearing scuba gear as he explores a treasure chest.  The dog is above him in a personal submarine powered by paw action.

This book, When I'm With You written by Pat Zietlow Miller with artwork by Eliza Wheeler, is an ode to friendship and its power.  It is a lively and lovely invitation to share life with a special individual.  It is a balm for all our souls.  I highly recommend it for both your personal and professional collections.

To learn more about Pat Zietlow Miller and Eliza Wheeler and their other work, please follow the link attached to their names to access their websites.  Pat Zietlow Miller has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Eliza Wheeler has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Pat Zietlow Miller was recently interviewed by Madison Magazine.  Pat Zietlow Miller and Eliza Wheeler chat about this book at PictureBookBuilders.  John Schu, librarian and writer, highlights this title in conversations with Pat Zietlow Miller and Eliza Wheeler on his blog, Watch. Connect. Read.  Pat Zietlow Miller is in conversation with Eliza Wheeler about this title in a previous Crowdcast event.

When your canine companion is considered a sporting dog, regardless of the weather or your state of health, you walk miles every single day.  It is a commitment you must keep.  There are times when the very thought of leaving the cozy comfort of your home is downright daunting, but you go.  Without fail, something wonderful happens.  You see a deer crossing the road in front of you, a group of raptors gliding overhead, countless sunrises in breathtaking colors, and ever-changing cloud formations, and the birdsong is like your own personal symphony.  In Climb On! (North|South, March 8, 2022) written by Baptiste Paul with illustrations by Jacqueline Alcantara, this is exactly what occurs.  

Morning, Dad!

It's a great day for
watching futbol.

The child quickly reminds her father of a promise to hike to the summit of a local mountain.  They place essentials in their backpacks and begin their hike.  Dad keeps offering reasons to stop or turn back.

There are too many beautiful things to see to turn back or stop.  His daughter reminds him to climb on.  When she asks him to swing on a vine to take a plunge in a waterfall pond, he takes up the mantra of climb on.

The father is exhausted and wants to know if they are at the top.  They are only midway to the top.  There is a small setback, a slip and fall, but through the leaves they see their multi-colored town below them.

Now tired, the child rides on her father's shoulders as he steadily continues in the heat with muscles aching.  They break through the vegetation.  A single three-letter word describes what they behold before them.  Wonderful.

Through a blend of narrative and conversation, author Baptiste Paul tells the tale of a memorable trek, a day of shared revelations.  Short sentences, sometimes only a series of single words give readers a real sense of participating in this climb.  The inclusion of Creole words in the dialogue between the Dad and his daughter draws us further into their adventure.  Here is a passage.

The rocks weep from yesterday's rain.
Each step slower than the last.

Fe vit.  Hurry up!

Not only does the front, right side, of the open and matching dust jacket and book case inspire you to climb a mountain, but it invites you to open the book and read the story.  The natural beauty of the area in which the tale is told is reflected in the vivid hues of blue and green with spots of other colors.  You can almost feel the heat and humidity and breathe the salty air.  The green found in the palm leaves is used for the spine and back of the jacket and case.  Here flora and fauna found on the hike are displayed around praise for the previous collaboration by the author and illustrator, The Field

On the opening endpapers is an illustration of a green field.  Houses frame the border on two sides.  On the left side in the foreground, we can see the beginning of the trail to the mountaintop.  In the distance the sea and sky appear as one.  In a word, this is serenity.  On the closing endpapers, the child and her father are back at the waterfall pond.  Together they are swinging on a vine over the water.  It is a lush setting with various shades of green with the waterfall in the background.

These illustrations by Jacqueline Alcantara begin and end with the endpapers.  On the verso and title pages, her pictorial interpretation starts with the daughter, first, studying a map, and second, lifting a hat from her resting father's face.  The images, double-page and single-page, extend to the edges.  Even though opposite single-page pictures are different scenes, they flow together superbly.

Readers will find themselves carefully looking at each image, studying the details.  What flora and fauna are on display?  The facial expressions on the child's face mirror her every emotion.

One of my many favorite illustrations is a single-page visual.  The child is close to readers in the foreground.  She is bending over to study a caterpillar on a cupped, dark green leaf.  In the background, her dad is lying on his back, stretched out over a large boulder.  He is clearly exhausted.  Graceful, red and green leafy vines act as a partial border on either side.

There will be times when you would rather not keep a promise or a commitment, but in honoring it, positive discoveries will be made.  Climb On! written by Baptiste Paul with artwork by Jacqueline Alcantara clearly depicts this truth.  Natural world wonders heal.  You will want to have a copy of this title in both your professional and personal collections. (There is a surprise challenge tucked into the closing endpapers.)

To learn more about Baptiste Paul and Jacqueline Alcantara and their other work, please visit their websites by following the link attached to their names.  Baptiste Paul has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Jacqueline Alcantara has accounts on Facebook, BehanceInstagram, and Twitter.  At the publisher's website, you can view the first few pages and download resources.  At Simon & Schuster, you can see other interior illustrations.  The cover reveal was hosted at School Library Journal, A Fuse #8 Production by Betsy Bird.  Both the author and illustrator are interviewed about this book at We Need Diverse Books.

Unconditional love is powerful.  It is always present, like a heartbeat that does not stop.  How do we know if we are loved unconditionally?  We know in ordinary and extraordinary moments, some lasting seconds and others lasting years. Author Andrea Beaty and illustrator Vashti Harrison have created a heartwarming portrait in poetic phrases and tender lively artwork of this love in their new collaboration, I Love You Like Yellow (Abrams Books for Young Readers, March 29, 2022).

I love you like yellow.

I love you like green.

Like a flowery orchid

and sweet tangerine.

These three sentences begin a sensory expression of love.  Opposites, too, are used to show the extent of this love.  This love happens in times of jubilance and in times of sorrow.

If you could taste this love, it would be like sugar and dill pickles.  It is there when time pauses or speeds, even when the recipient of this love is slow when they wish to be fast.  Whatever the weather, rain or sunshine, hot or cold, the love is still there.

This love is present in daylight and beneath the stars at night.  Like those stars, it is there, always.  From the beginning of the day and until the end of the day, this love is ever constant.

During each moment of the day, at work or at play, you are loved.  You are a song.  You are silence.  When you are nestled in your bed, more asleep than awake, you will be embraced by love.

Whether the sentences written by Andrea Beaty are read silently or aloud, they are like singing a song.  The rhyming words (and use of alliteration) fashion a melody.  You find yourself humming, quietly or aloud.  These words remind us of the vastness and universality of love.  Here is a passage.

Like brisk and breezy.

Like bouncy and bold.

After looking at the open dust jacket, I think I need a pair of yellow boots to match my yellow raincoat.  I know I will find as much joy as this parent and child in puddle splashing.  Their spirited play surrounded by the softly-textured setting is definitely welcoming.  The title text and rain gear on the jacket are varnished.

The scene continues across the spine.  The meadow stretches to the left side.  Reddish pink flowers mound in the lower, left-hand corner as a blue butterfly stops for a sip.  Across the grass, there is another bunch of yellow flowers and orange butterflies near them.  Above the misty slopes, a rainbow arcs from the left to off the top of the visual.

On the book case, we have moved to a close-up of the puddle covering both sides.  There is some grass framing the puddle along the bottom and right side.  The parent and child stand still in the puddle, but you can tell by ripple marks they just moved.  All we can see are their boots and a small portion of their legs.  The parent is to the left of the spine and the child is to the right of the spine.  

On a crisp white canvas on the opening and closing endpapers is a pattern of items found within the book.  The elements are a paper airplane, leaves, butterflies, lemons, playing cards, orchids, apples, and yellow umbrellas.  On the initial title page, the parent and child look out a window at the rain.  On the formal title page and dedication page, the mother is putting a raincoat on her child.

For each of the four phrases, a different parent and their child or children are featured.  Using 

colored pencil and Photoshop,

Vashti Harrison has created warmhearted, playful, and highly animated images.  She shifts her perspectives, bringing us close to the families at times and then places them in a more scenic setting.  The illustrations are full-page pictures, groups of smaller visuals, and glorious double-page images.  The families reflect a range of ethnicity and ages.

One of my many favorite pictures is a single-page illustration.  A father has been spending time with his daughter and her younger brother.  They are now baking cookies.  On the kitchen counter in front of them are ingredients and a cookie sheet with some cutout cookies ready for baking.  The father has his hands in a bowl mixing the ingredients.  On his head is a pie tin.  The daughter is laughing with her arms up in the air.  Her brother is seated on the counter.  He, too, has a pan on his head and he is holding a wooden spoon.  There is flour in the air along with the laughter.

The love portrayed through the words of Andrea Beaty and the artwork of Vashti Harrison in I Love You Like Yellow radiates from the pages.  This book is certain to soothe souls of all ages, readers and listeners alike.  There is a lot of happiness to be found here.  No personal or professional collection is complete without a copy of this book.

To learn more about Andrea Beaty and Vashti Harrison and their other work, please access their websites by following the link attached to their names.  Andrea Beaty has accounts on FacebookInstagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.  Vashti Harrison has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  At the publisher's website, you can view interior images.  There is also a video there with Andrea Beaty discussing the inspiration for this title.

We try to measure and keep track of time with watches, phones, clocks, planners, and calendars, but truthfully time has always gone at its own pace, altered only by our perspectives.  It seems to go slow when the only thing we want is for it to speed like a lightning flash.  Then, the older we get, the faster it goes.  We find ourselves frequently thinking, how could so many years have come and gone . . . like a lightning flash.  In their two previous collaborations, Drawn Together and Lift, author Minh Le and author illustrator Dan Santat gave us life's truths by putting their collective hearts into their words and art.  They have done this again, beautifully, in The Blur (Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, May 3, 2022).  

From the beginning
there was something different
about this child.

Yes, this child had a shockingly loud voice and limber arms and legs.  She mastered hearing the softest sound.  And, this child could become invisible.  These traits blended to make the most fascinating characteristic of all, magnetism.  People gravitated toward this bundle of superpowers.

As a youngster, the parents could hardly keep up with all the tasks this child presented, except when she slept.  Then time seemed to stop, until she learned to walk.

Wowee!  Look out!  She's always in motion.  Again, moments blended into one another because of 

The Blur.

As years pass at a ferocious pace, the girl embraces every activity with unbridled enthusiasm.  There are mostly high points, the sadness of loss, and some tense-filled seconds for her parents.  Before any of them realize it, time halts again.  It is high school graduation day.  And then, she's off once more.  All those memories fueling this superhero, a child who was different from the beginning.

With that first sentence, author Minh Le has us hooked.  What made this child different?  As each aspect of her personality is disclosed, each reader will bring their personal experiences to interpret those aspects.  You will find yourself nodding knowingly or howling with laughter or both.  Three times, Minh Le takes us on a whirlwind of growing up, only to have us pause and savor that pause.  It is a splendid storytelling technique.  Here is a passage.


And yet . . .


How can you look at the front, right side, of the dust jacket and not want to hug this family?  Happiness radiates off this image.  Everyone is smiling, the parents, the daughter, the puppy, and even the stuffed toy lion.  (It looks like a smile to me.)  Artist Dan Santat has placed these individuals on a background collage of captured moments from the interior pages.  The dots consist of color combinations from the title text.  They might also signify time and how fast it can pass.

To the left of the spine, on the back, on a light cream and peach background is a single image.  It is a graduation hat thrown in the air.  Multi-colored dots balloon up from the hat.  Everything on the front and back of the dust jacket is varnished except for the background and background pictures.

On the book case the canvas changes to a blend of white and teal.  Teal swirls and loops on the back and front indicate a path taken by The Blur.  She is running on the front, eyes closed in bliss with her mouth open in happiness and her arms wide open.  Her cape is flying behind her as colored dots follow her movements.  Her puppy is running and barking beside her.  (I want to run with them!)

On the opening and closing endpapers on a white background are large, vibrant dots.  They look as if they are circles of watercolor or chalk.  On the right side of the opening endpapers, there is an additional element.  It is a bandage appearing under the words:


These images by Dan Santat were

created using colored pencil and watercolor on paper and Adobe Photoshop.

On the title page sits the stuffed toy lion next to a vase of flowers with a congratulations card.  That lion is on its way to resting with the child in the hospital bed on the next two-page picture.  Illustration sizes vary from double-page visuals to single-page pictures, edge to edge, or surrounded by white space for dramatic framing.  Sometimes there will be multiple pictures on a single page to interpret the words pictorially. Several times the parents (and The Blur) are placed among smaller images.  The details in the illustrations and facial expressions of the parents and their daughter ask us to stop, to freeze time and remember and laugh and cry.  (I love how the younger girl swings into a series of pictures on one page and with a page turn she swings out of another set of images, but is now much older.  Brilliant.)

One of my many favorite illustrations is when The Blur believes she is invisible.  She is seated on the floor, wearing a one piece pair of pajamas with feet.  She has her cape, now much larger, held in her hands and covering her eyes.  Her puppy sits next to her, tail wagging and nose sniffing.  They are enveloped in white space.

This book, The Blur written by Minh Le with artwork by Dan Santat, is about a special child, all children, and time.  It is a recognition of how precious every moment is, even though when we are in the midst of them, we don't always appreciate their value.  It asks us to hold fast to life.  I highly recommend this title for your professional and personal collections.  You will find yourself gifting this title repeatedly.

To discover more about Minh Le and Dan Santat and their other work, please access their websites by following the link attached to their names.  Minh Le has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Dan Santat has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and TwitterMinh Le and Dan Santat Talk with Roger at The Horn Book about this title.  Minh Le and Dan Santat are interviewed about this book at We Need Diverse Books.  The cover reveal was at School Library Journal, 100 Scope Notes, hosted by Travis Jonker and an interview with the collaborators.  At Penguin Random House, you can view the endpapers.

The thing about life is regardless of our past, present, or possible future, things happen beyond our control.  There are things wonderful beyond our imagining and things which plunge us into deep sadness.  We find ourselves stunned by both.  

What we can do in those times of tragedy is look for a sliver of silver lining.  It may not be there for a long time.  If we cannot find it, perhaps we need to change or be a part of a larger change.  If children are a part of our lives, as parents, caregivers, or educators, we need to help them to understand their futures are full of potential and promise.  Like the weather, the clouds pass to reveal the sunshine or moonlight and stars.  You Are Here (Chronicle Books, May 10, 2022) written and illustrated by Zach Manbeck is a joyful reminder to be ourselves, going forward with hope.  It is his debut book. 

YOU are here.
And from here,

you can go anywhere! 

Readers are next asked a question.

But how will you find your way?

The following pages paint in words and pictures possible positive paths.  Although it might seem obvious, we need to begin.  Depending on our abilities, we will all begin differently.

We are invited to be explorers.  There is no perfect direction for everyone.  Some individuals will go quickly, others more slowly.  There will be those who are at the same pace as we are. 

Will the path be smooth?  Sometimes it will.  Sometimes it won't, but we need to be relentless in seeking our potential and promise. 

We need to be ready for what we might discover using our senses.  Perhaps we begin anew each day.  That is why it is most important to remember where we are . . . always.

The thoughts presented in this book by Zach Manbeck are bursting with positivity.  Every recommendation is as if he is cheering for readers, encouraging them forward.  Individuality is paramount in this delivery.  Here is a passage.


You'll find your way . . .

if you let if find you.

The color palette shown on the open dust jacket is used throughout the book.  It speaks to warmth and new growth and being fully alive.  On the front, right side, we are introduced to many of the children and one of the animals seen often in the narrative.  The yellow butterfly figures importantly and prominently in many of the images.  It can be seen as a symbol of change, growth, and the beauty of becoming your best self.  The rays are embossed in gold.

To the left of the spine, on the back, more children and two animals run to the right.  They are running through what appears to be a jungle, replete with tall plants, trees and hanging vines.  One individual has a pair of binoculars and the other holds a magnifying glass.

On the cream book case a large yellow butterfly is displayed.  The center of the butterfly is in the center on the right side.  The left wing crosses the spine into the center of the left side.  The right wing bleeds off the right side.  A looping line from the left indicates the flight of the insect.  The thumb and finger of a child reaches toward the body of the butterfly from the bottom of the illustration.

The opening and closing endpapers are bright yellow with spots of green and orange.  Three separate pages, a word on each page, delivers the title to readers.  The word "here" is shown in a circle of cream on orange with the yellow butterfly zooming in from the left.

These illustrations by Zach Manbeck 

were rendered in gouache and various mixed media, then edited digitally.

Large circles become frames for the children and text and act as design elements with stars and splashes of bright colors, depending on the setting.  The setting might be a garden, a jungle, a cave, different modes of travel or an array of contraptions.  The layouts draw our eyes to the individuals and their activities.

One of my many favorite illustrations is a double-page picture. It is a jungle and floral scene.  All we can see on most of the visual is darkened outlines, except for a particular area.  On the left side, a child, the first child and wearing a backpack is running into this darkness.  In one hand they are holding a flashlight.  It makes a beam of light through the darkness to the right, ending in a large circle holding the text.  Wherever the light shines, the colors are boldly shown.

The exuberance you feel after a positive affirmation envelopes you with every page turn in You Are Here written and illustrated by Zach Manbeck.  This book is yes to no and go to stop.  It is hope.  You will want to place a copy on the bookshelves in your personal and professional collections.

By following the link attached to Zach Manbeck's name, you can access his website, finding out more about him and his work.  Zach Manbeck has accounts on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.  At the publisher's website, you can view interior pictures. 

In my cupboard is an array of tea canisters.  Each one holds a different flavor of tea.  They supply me with selections based on the time of day, my level of thirst, and my emotional frame of mind.  Tea is a source of comfort.  Depending on the type of mug or glass, the tea can cool on a sweltering day or warm hands and body on a chilly morning or evening.  It can elevate a meal or celebration or be a reminder of people no longer with us.  (I still have some of the tea cups and saucers my mother collected.)

Tea and tea ceremonies are found in all corners of the world.  When drinking tea, connections are made with those other people and their communities.  In an endearing story, a bow of respect, to those connections, Luli and the Language of Tea (Neal Porter Books, Holiday House, May 24, 2022) written by Andrea Wang with pictures by Hyewon Yum presents to children the power they have through sincerity and their hearts to add light to their worlds.

The playroom was quiet.
Luli couldn't speak English.
Neither could the others.

Not being able to communicate with each other, the children were apart, playing by themselves.  This was what Luli did when she was previously at the playroom.  Then, she had an idea.  She made a picture to show Miss Hirokane her idea.  

This next time Luli took special items from her backpack.  She removed 

a thermos, a canister, stacks of cups, and a fat-bellied teapot.

Luli got busy combining and using these items.  Then, Luli called out a word in Chinese.

The children stopped playing and looked at Luli.  Soon single words were called out, child by child, around the room, in nine different languages.  Do you know what those words meant?

Pulling up chairs, the children came to the table.  The tea was poured in the first cup and passed from child to child until each child had a cup.  Wait! There was no tea left for Luli.  Luli's cup was passed from child to child.  Everyone was speaking the same language, the language of sharing and the language of . . .

With simple, lovely sentences Andrea Wang supplies readers with an understanding of Luli's heart and the hearts of the other children in the room.  Are we not all looking for connections and commonality like these children?  After Luli calls out tea in her language, a cadence is supplied by each child responding with the word for tea in their language.  Andrea Wang also gives us their first name, making the story more intimate. (The word for tea is also written in its native language.)  She again generates a rhythm when the tea cups are passed from child to child, naming them and once more when Luli's cup is passed from child to child.  Andrea Wang's carefully chosen words welcome us.  Here is a passage.

Now everyone had a share.
Hands curled around warm cups.
Mouths curved into shy smiles.

In looking at the matching dust jacket and book case, we meet Luli, the one child who made a huge difference, and how she changed the entire atmosphere in the playroom.  On the front, right side, her quiet, gentle smile speaks volumes.  We want to know what she has to say and what the language of tea is.  To the left of the spine, on the back, we see the children after drinking their tea.  There are still some at the table with Luli.  Two more are chatting as they walk away.  Two children are on the floor playing with a toy bulldozer.  Two are standing by the shelves watching three goldfish swim in a bowl.  

Still using a brilliant white canvas with excellence, Hyewon Yum features ten cups for tea gathered from the countries of Morocco, Iran, China, Chile, India, Kenya, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Turkey, and Germany on the opening and closing endpapers.  They are drawn in detail and labeled.  Two more page turns begin the pictorial story.  The first double-page picture shows parents going through the door to a classroom for learning English as a second language.  The children enter the playroom door next to the classroom.  For the verso and title pages, this image shows Luli peeking through the playroom doorway.

Rendered with

colored pencils

by artist Hyewon Yum, the illustrations complement the narrative with their delicate details.  The images are double-page pictures, some of them including two moments in one visual, and single-page pictures. Sometimes there are two images to a page using vertical and horizontal panels. Her use of white space is splendid with it acting as another element.  Perspective is shifted to accentuate the pacing and to provide us with added emotion.  The bird's eye view of the table with the seated children and their cups of tea is exquisite.

One of my many favorite illustrations is a single-page picture.  Luli is seated at the table.  Before her are the

full-bellied teapot, stacks of cups, and the canister

in blue and white.  Luli's mouth, after she took a breath, is wide open as she shouts tea in Chinese.  This is the beginning of something important.

When I think of the children in this playroom, alone and separated by a language barrier, my love for this brave and wise child swells.  Luli and the Language of Tea written by Andrea Wang with artwork by Hyewon Yum allows children to see, regardless of their age, the power they have to make positive changes.  At the close of the book is A Note from the Author, words under About the Children and Languages in This Story and a focus on people from Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America.  The children are identified by the country from which they immigrated.  I highly recommend you place a copy of this book in your professional and personal collections.

To learn more about Andrea Wang and Hyewon Yum and their other work, please follow the link attached to their names to access their websites.  Andrea Wang has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Hyewon Yum has accounts on FacebookInstagram, and TwitterAndrea Wang and this book are showcased at author, reviewer, and blogger Julie Danielson's Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.  Andrea Wang speaks about this book at PictureBookBuilders for the cover revealAt Maria Marshall's site the author and illustrator are interviewed about this book, their work, and themselves.  At the publisher's website, there is an educator's guide.  At Penguin Random House, you can view the endpapers.

No comments:

Post a Comment