Beauty, Art, Music in Literature Books Early Readers Genre Lifespan of a Reader Picture Books Reading Themes

The Beauty Of Lost Things And Those That Once Were…

... but aren't anymore.

Myra here.

As I was looking for titles that would fit our current reading theme while browsing through the community library’s bookshelves, I chanced upon these two which just called to me. While they may not be what you might ordinarily think of for our theme, I think they still fit quite nicely.

The Lost House

Written and Illustrated by B. B. Cronin
Published by Viking Books for Young Readers (2016).
ISBN: 0812989287 (ISBN13: 9780812989281). Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Grandad is taking his two adorable grandchildren to the park today. But before that happens, he needs to find a few things that he must bring with him to the park.

Initially, I thought that Grandad was suffering from Alzheimer’s (hehe), but apparently his colour-coded house is just in a state of organized chaos, to put it mildly.

This is a brilliant seek-and-find book that is perfect for readers who need to develop their attention to detail, or those who appreciate visual narrative. There is also a vintage feel to the entire story that appealed to me greatly.

As the reader turns to the next page, one sees what the general appearance of the previous missing object was – giving the unsuccessful reader another chance to find the umbrella, the set of keys, the bowler hat, the socks – in the event that they didn’t find the lost objects the first time around. Whether Grandad and the children found their way to the park amidst their search for the missing objects, I shall leave for you to discover.

A House That One Was

Written by Julie Fogliano Illustrated by Lane Smith
Published by Roaring Brook Press (2018).
ISBN: 1626723141 (ISBN13: 9781626723146). Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

There is something in the way that Julie Fogliano uses words that weave its way into my being. It isn’t just the lyricism, the turns of phrase, the rhythm, but a kind of truth hiding in between the lines, peeking out, and begging to be seen and understood.

At the front of the house
the house that is waiting
there’s a door that is not really open
but barely.
A door that is closed
but not quite.
A door that is stuck between coming and going.
A door that was once painted white.

This book is a quiet reminder of lost portraits, the pregnant hush upon seeing objects that were loved once but now discarded, the wonder of discovering fragments and pieces of a life that once was, but isn’t any longer.

Then there is the promise of that which came after – the imaginings of a life beyond the one that does not exist anymore, and the smells and warmth of that which still remain. This is a gorgeous book. Find it.

This House, Once

Written and Illustrated by Deborah Freedman
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (2017).
ISBN: 1481442848 (ISBN13: 9781481442848). Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

This book is a lyrical demonstration of the mud, stones, dust, trees that form the foundations and substance of what constitutes the physical structure that make a house.

Told in a lilting, almost-ethereal voice, it pays tribute to that which came before everything else was built – not so much lost or gone – but transformed into something else entirely.

It reminded me a little bit of Jonathan Bean’s Building Our House (see my review here), but also the philosophical What There Is Before There Is Anything There by the Argentinian author-illustrator Liners (see my review here).

While rooted in fact, there is a dreamlike quality to the narrative that invites the young mind to wonder and wander, hold something close and ponder on the story that led to the now.

#LitWorld2018GB Update: B. B. Cronin is originally from Ireland but now lives in the US. Julie Fogliano/Lane Smith and Deborah Freedman are from the US.

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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

2 comments on “The Beauty Of Lost Things And Those That Once Were…

  1. They both look terrific. How poetic: “the imaginings of a life beyond the one that does not exist anymore, and the smells and warmth of that which still remain.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What an awe-inspiring collection of titles to erect an emotional mansion of memories and curiosities.


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