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Friday, December 13, 2013

Once Upon a Memory, written by Nina Laden and illustrated by Renata Liwska. Little Brown and Company, Hachette. 2013. $19.00 all ages

"Does a book remember
it once was...
...a word?

Does a chair remember
it once was...
...a tree?

Does a garden remember
it once was...
...a pea?"

I have a friend who leads workshops in writing for all ages. Borrowing ideas from the brilliant Lynda Barry and her equally brilliant What It Is (Drawn & Quarterly, 2008), Don encourages those who attend to mine the details of a memory for writing workshop, or for their own purpose.  I have been at three of those workshops, and I even surprise myself with the topics I can walk around to find a memory for writing.

Nina Laden uses the concept of memory to create this lovely, quiet poem that is sure to trigger deep thoughts for many. She encourages us to think about familiar objects in our environment and to consider what their memories might be. I found myself thinking imaginatively about the origins of a number of  objects once I had read this beautiful book. What a concept!

Renata Liwska's art is described in front matter: 'The art was initially sketched by hand in the artist's journal. It was then scanned and colored in Adobe Photoshop. The animal characters were inspired
by the artist's experiences with nature, from her worldwide travels to her own backyard." Each image created is a perfect accompaniment to the warmth and charm of the questions themselves. As the small boy asks the question, the artist provides a tiny scene showing familiar gentle animals that perfectly depict the notion he has expressed.

Take perfect words, add exceptional illustrations and you have the recipe for a book to love and cherish. I LOVE this little treasure.  

Also, I wanted to share with you a talk given by Lynda Barry. It may give you pause!                                                                       

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