Quote of the Month

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

Friday, December 9, 2022

If You Seek It, You Will See It

Each of us needs to remind ourselves; there is beauty to be found everywhere if we seek it.  It can be found in a shape or an angle or a size or the meeting of shapes, angles and sizes.  Colors, dark or light, or in a blend of many hues can take our breath away when we least expect it.  Colors can have meanings, some the same or different, for each of us.  We associate color with events and places and individual beings.  We have favorite colors.

As a gardener, the various hues of brown seen in soil determine which plants will thrive in certain spaces.  The brown of soils, for this gardener, represents, too, support and learning from a father who enjoyed making things grow.  Every day in the presence of my chocolate Labrador retriever, Mulan, brown means warmth and unconditional love.   In Brown Is Beautiful (Farrar Straus Giroux, October 4, 2022) written by Supriya Kelkar with pictures by Noor Sofi, readers see how we are surrounded by brown and its varied representations.  A young girl, an Indian American, and her grandparents are off on a hike.  During their adventure, pictures preserve their discoveries of the many meanings and value of brown.

Brown is beautiful.

A wild mustang in a vast expanse
Shimmering mane calling for a second glance.

From this panoramic perspective, the child next bends low to the ground to watch a row of ants carry items far greater than they are in size.  During a sudden storm, taking shelter under a tree, it is understood how secure a tree is with all the roots extending underground.  The wood used in a small campfire signifies energy.

When a mother bear offers safety to her cubs, brown is courageous.  It is tall like a mountain and an eagle gliding high in the sky.  Brown is home for those creatures finding a residence in a hollow.

Did you know this color can be wise?  What examples of its knowledge do you think the little girl and her grandparents find?  All we have to do is examine a canyon or a cave to know brown is brimming with mystery.  What artist fashioned what a canyon or a cave reveals?

Paths taking us away and back home and sometimes to parts unknown are brown.  For those making nests for their young, 

brown is love.

Brown is a new baby brother.  This is beautiful.  We are beautiful.

When you think of all the walks we've taken alone or in the company of friends, furry or human, often we've seen all we hoped for and much more.  With her story, Supriya Kelkar celebrates the color brown whenever and wherever it is seen.  She begins each portion of her narrative with a defining word.  Following this is a rhyming couplet filled with descriptive words.  These definitions and couplets are as uplifting as the explorations and discoveries of the characters.  Here is a passage.

Brown is stable.
Twisted roots tunneling deep
Through wind and rain, the tree will keep

How can you not smile when first looking at the front of the open and matching dust jacket and book case?  The forest scene, soft and inviting in tones of brown and blue, accent the leaves, flowers and stems on the left and right of the foreground.  These all serve to showcase the girl holding the leaf.  The hint of a smile in her eyes and mouth ask us to join her.

To the left of the spine, on the back, starting at the top are layers of golden brown shifting to shades of blue along the bottom.  A circle framed in leaves, flowers, and stems is a placeholder for text.  It reads:

Brown is potential.
A new life crying out
A warm seed about to sprout

The opening and closing endpapers first hold the dedication, verso and title pages.  The last two pages are titled Method, supplying readers with options and instructions.  Each double-page picture throughout the body of the book and the two single-page visuals by artist Noor Sofi are rendered 

digitally using Procreate on the iPad Pro.

Her layers provide readers with different perspectives in the same image.  Bright colors, light and shadow animate each setting.  Love of each other and their surroundings is shown in each person's facial expressions.  Flora and fauna are depicted realistically.

One of my many favorite illustrations is a two-page picture.  Here readers are brought very close to the highlighted subjects.  We can see some sunny background through the log's branches.  Moving across the log, right to left is a line of ants, each carrying a sizable load.  They have been magnified for us.  Underneath and along the log are several clumps of flowers.  Behind the log is the girl.  All we can see is the portion of her face with her eyes, framed by her hair.  Her camera is between her face and the ants with a finger poised to take a picture.  Her deep brown eyes are full of life and curiosity.

Written by Supriya Kelkar with pictures by Noor Sofi, Brown Is Beautiful is a lyrical love letter to the color brown; an appreciation for all it is and all it can be.  At the close of the book is an Author's Note about her growing up in a community where there were few brown-skinned people.  She speaks about how her mindset changed about the color brown.  At the close of the book are pages titled How to Make Your Own Scrapbook, Materials and the previously mentioned Method.  This is for readers to create what the child was doing for her new baby brother.  I highly recommend this title for your personal and professional collections.  

To learn more about Supriya Kelkar and Noor Sofi and their other work, access their websites by following the link attached to their names.  Supriya Kelkar has accounts on Instagram and Twitter.  Noor Sofi has accounts on Instagram and YouTube.  Both Supriya Kelkar and Noor Sofi are interviewed at John Schu's Watch. Connect. Read. about this title.  At the publisher's website, you can view interior images.

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