Wednesday, May 25, 2016
How the Sun Got to Coco's House, written and illustrated by Bob Graham. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2015. $23.99 ages 4 and up
It was caught briefly
in the eye of a whale ..
then headed up the beach
and out over frozen forests,
making shadows on the snow
and in Jung Su's footsteps.
The rising sun met birds
still flying south for the
winter and a plane ... "
If you have never read Bob Graham's marvellous books, please head out today and borrow a 'bunch' from your library. I have been an avid fan of this soft-spoken, thoughtful Australian writer and illustrator for many years. His many books, which seem so genuine and simple, are indeed quite extraordinary! You won't be sorry to spend a hour or so with his work. Each signature pen and watercolor illustration is packed with visual imagery meant to draw his young audience into thinking about the story being told. So it is with Coco.
You can see when looking at the front cover above that it is nighttime. If you could see more closely, you would note a starry night, a snowy backyard, a light in a window, and a young child (and canine companion) looking out into the darkness. The warm yellow glow from the lighted window and the soft light of the moon is calming. Open the book to find that young child hoisting the dog up onto the pink bed cover. The room is small, softly lit, and awash with things of importance to a small child.
Have we come to the title page yet? We have not. But, we are collecting information as we go. A turn of another page and we note the mother kissing the child, the father kissing the dog, and a wider perspective on the bedroom. Turn the page again, and our story begins with a polar bear mother and her two cubs ... oh, so far away from Coco's bedroom. Where they are, the sun is just poking its light above the horizon. From that moment we follow the sun on the journey it makes each and every day ... from sunup until sundown. We make many stops along the way, all the while knowing that we will eventually return to Coco where the sun has been shining throughout a long and busy day. Be sure to finish with a look at the back cover, too.
Constantly changing our perspective on the quiet action of the sun's movement across the world, Mr. Graham assures that there is much to hold our attention. The soft colors, the panels used to move us from place to place, and the occasional double page spread capture many beautiful moments. The pace of the story is as warm and soothing as the sun's rays, allowing for a most pleasurable read.