So the rule is: choose one story he hasn't heard yet, along with two favorites. (In a shelf of fifty-plus library books, this is not difficult.)
However, much to his mama's delight, he has chosen this one several times as a comfortable favorite, and oh, friends, it is so warmly evocative!
Once Upon a Memory
by Nina Laden
illustrated by Renata Liwska
In softly rhyming couplets, the author weaves questions into a little boy's world...
Does a feather remember it once was a bird?
Does a book remember it once was a word?
As a feather floats into his playroom, he bends to pick it up, his mind's eye envisioning a barbershop for birds in a soft, warm hole, feathers from a "trim" being swept away. His hands smooth the pages of a book while he imagines a bookshop, patronized by the soft stuffed animals of his playroom tea party.
Gideon's breathing quiets as he leans in closer to examine the softly sketched and colored pages.
Does work remember it once was play?
Does night remember it once was day?
In one scene, the little boy rakes leaves into a scraggly pile; across the page, happy raccoons leap into a full pile of bronzed leaves. (And here, Mama catches her breath, too, for she has a bad habit of valuing work more than play.)
There is a cyclical repetition to the story; the author calls the couplets "origin questions", prompting children to question the origins of their inanimate surroundings; islands, statues, gardens... and leading to questions about even the origins of feelings and people:
Does love remember it once was new?
Does a family remember it once was two?
I am completely in awe of this kind of writing; simple, spare words leading to deeply moving, absolutely profound observations.
So, needless to say, this book keeps hopping into our library bags each month- but I'm determined to make sure other families get to enjoy it next! Perhaps instead it will hop onto our wishlist. I hope you will look for it, too- I believe it will bless and inspire you as it captures the hearts and imaginations of your children!
(p.s.- Don't miss the almost-hidden page at the end- the author and illustrator share some of their favorite memories as a prompt for you and your little ones to remember yours!)