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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Vanilla Ice Cream, written and illustrated by Bob Graham. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2024. $19.00 ages 3 and up

"He is young.

He is curious...

and bold.

Bold as a truck-stop

The sparrow is free
to go where he pleases."

I love how clearly and wondrously Bob Graham looks at the world. He writes gentle, thoughtful books that have strong appeal for all who share them. The events that concern him may seem unremarkable, until he sets his pen to paper and uses his signature watercolor artwork to make them memorable and satisfying. 

This one is initially set  in India, on a hot and dusty day! A dhaba offers food and beverage, while   two young children play hopscotch barefoot and sparrows peck in the dust beside them. One bird proves his bravery and curiosity by landing on a child's finger. The driver of a rice truck stops for lunch, and is not willing to share with the inquisitive bird. Little does he know that his cargo offers an even more tempting snack. When the truck leaves, so does the sparrow.

A journey begins, and our experience is heightened by all we see in the wordless images that take the bird from country to city, from rice truck to a cargo ship:

"Like all wild birds,
he follows the food."

The cargo ship makes its ocean crossing in a series of perfectly paced and framed illustrations, all the way to a bright and exciting city where he finds a wee girl named Edie, and her grandparents. It's a perfect opportunity for another feast...despite a very scary moment! Turns out that the sparrow is not the recipient of this new taste delight! Being young and curious, as the sparrow also is, it is young Edie how discovers a brand new world of taste.

Now, get out there and discover your own small and spectacular moments. What might have led to this very moment in time? Can you imagine it? This perfect picture book speaks to those events which connect our world, despite the distances that separate us.

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