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Friday, September 2, 2011

Nini, written and illustrated by Francois Thisdale. Tundra, 2011. $17.99 ages 3 and up

"The time came when the baby needed to see all those wondrous things
for herself. And so, she was born. The first face she saw was the sweet face that belonged to the voice. The first hands she felt were the soft hands of love."

It is a soft and gentle memory that never leaves Nini.

This is a warm and lovely family story that will have an impact for those who have longed for a child. It is written from the personal perspective of an adoptive parent and it is told with grace and deep emotion, as you might imagine.

We meet Nini while still in the womb, listening with great attention to the voice and other sounds surrounding her. She feels safe and loved. Once born, she must remember the voice for she no longer hears it. Rather, she hears the sound of many voices, belonging to the people of the orphanage who care for her and keep her healthy and happy. She misses that first voice.

A long way from where she is, a couple waits. They long for a baby and share mutual delight when a letter arrives from the other side of the world...there is a child. She is a precious girl. They each must make a long journey to their meeting place. When they meet, Nini hears another soft voice, full of the sounds of love.

This is Francois Thisdale's first picture book. It is fitting that it is such a loving tribute to his daughter and those who made the dream of family come true. The artwork is so beautiful and calming. Always at its heart is the lovely little face, close-up and so charming. The layered style provides such a lovely backdrop for the events described. My favorite is the one where the baby takes center stage on a double page spread, one side showing her snowy house 'with a pointed roof' in Canada, the other side showing 'a little house with a pointed roof' in China. So fitting!

"In their girl's wise eyes, her mother and father see the past joined with the present, like a bridge that connects one place to another."

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