We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2018 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.
Admittedly, I am not too certain whether this can be technically classified as a nonfiction picturebook. However, I am going out on a limb here by claiming that it is – as it celebrates what it means to be alive, loving the world we live in, through an inspirational story featuring the cycle of life. This would resonate not just with young readers but also adults who may be in a period of transition in their lives.
Written by Cynthia Rylant Illustrated by Brendan Wenzel
Published by Beach Lane Books (2017)
Borrowed from Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.
I borrowed this book from the library for quite awhile now, but it ended up being buried among the stacks of other brighter, louder, more colourful books. It was only as I was struggling which book to feature for Nonfiction Wednesday that I finally decided on giving this one a go.
The story begins simply enough with just these three words: “Life begins small.” Even huge animals such as elephants begin as a small, wee-thing. Then the reader is gradually led to see just how life grows.
The lines above show just how perfect this book is for our current reading theme on Contours Of Love: What do you love about life? Indeed, fellow bibliophiles – what is about life that you truly love?
Each of the animals, as can be seen above, have something about life that they truly love. This can even be extended further by a sensitive adult reader by asking a young child what they think a fish loves, or the dolphin, or the flower, or their father – and so on.
Then the narrative turns:
I have read so many rave reviews about this picturebook, and they are all well-deserved. This is because in such sparse, perfectly-distilled sentences, Rylant manages to pack such an emotional wallop that it leaves the adult reader somewhat winded by its utter simplicity and staggering beauty.
The narrative prepares the reader for the inevitability that life will sometimes hurt – that there will be wilderness in between – a field of nothingness. But then again, the wilderness ends.
Then there is the gentle reminder of things that make life worth living despite the enclosing darkness all around, and the book ends where it begins – the smallness, the growth – and the wilderness in between, and yes: love love love.
This is a beauty: a book that you should gift to the one you treasure most in this world.
#LitWorld2018GB Update: US (Cynthia Rylant and Brendan Wenzel are from the US.)