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Saturday, January 21, 2012

I'm here, written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. Atheneum, Simon & Schuster. 2011. $17.99 ages 3 and up

"Yes, I'm here.
I know I am.
I am here.
With the breeze.
Gentle wind.
I like the soft wind
patting my head."

Just as I was loaning Peter Reynolds' exquisite ish and the dot to a friend, I came upon this equally eloquent book in my TBR bookcase. I'm sorry it has taken me a while to tell you about it. His work is so deserving of our attention.

The playground is filled with the language and laughter of many children. They are playing ball, skipping, swinging, playing hand games...all those things that children do at recess in warm weather.  A young boy sits alone, hearing the children and their activities as 'one big noise'... it seems loud to him. He is on the playground but he is not with the other children.

He is in his own space, full of attention to the world but not to the children. Leaves flutter close by, and a sheet of paper lands near his knee. He is not sure paper should be on the ground where he is. So, he makes an airplane with it. Together, they fly off to be above the clouds and see the stars. It is an exhilarating trip and when it looks like they might land, the children set them sailing again. Well, only the paper plane really.

As it makes its own soft landing, a little girl picks it up and returns it to the boy. All are now 'here'. Is this the beginning of a new friendship?

Peter Reynolds' trademark art is filled with white space and focuses our attention on the boy, his plane, his imagination and the possibility of friendship. He wrote this book to encourage a better understanding of children with autism, and those who are 'different'. He encourages his readers to know that reaching out to someone may be the greatest gift we can give.

He continues to inspire with his thoughtful, gentle stories. Thank you Peter, for another 'keeper'.

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