Sunday, May 11, 2014

Children's Book Monday

Around our house, when Gideon is sent to choose several stories for a quiet read before bed, he has that five-year-old boy habit of choosing the same three each time. The content?  Silly. Or action-packed.  Or silly AND action-packed.

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!

Happy reading!

(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!)

2 fellow travelers shared:

Stacy said...

Elise,
I am ever so happy to see a post up from you. I always love your book recommendations. Oh, I do hope you'll continue writing in this space.
Blessings to you and your sweet readers,
~Stacy
ps- and now I'm off to put this one on hold at the library!

Bubbles said...

This looks like an amazing book! I will add it to my teacher's bookshelf that I am creating for my future classroom!

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