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Wednesday, May 8, 2019

You Are Never Alone, written by Elin Kelsey and illustrated by Soyeon Kim. Owlkids, 2019. $19.95 ages 6 and up

"You always have company.

Armies of microorganisms
snuggle against your skin,
keeping germs at bay.

Your face is home
to wee little cleaning mites
who evolved from mites that lived
on the faces of your relatives."

Elin Kelsey wants her readers to look around them and know that they are gifted each day by the natural world. In fact, she contests that it 'showers' them with gifts - the rain that falls, the air that plants create, the insects that assure the growth of food. It is endless and wondrous.

Ecosystems exist and work together. She describes the water cycle, pollination, forests, ocean life, the sun, plant life, trees, the microorganisms that protect and enrich every living person's life.

"Nature touches every bite you eat.

You gobble fruit from plants
pollinated by bats in the twilight
and bees in the day."

The connections that are part of all life on this planet are carefully explained and presented, allowing young readers a chance to think on the way life works and how nature impacts every single thing we do. Presented with care and in language that is manageable for the target audience, it helps in understanding how we are the same when it comes to breathing, to the gravitational pull that keeps us here, the immunity we need to stay strong and healthy, and so much more. It is a lovely tribute to this place we call home.

No matter where one looks, there is wonder. And wondrous are the dioramas created by Soyeon Kim on double page spreads to show the joy children find can in life. They play, they fly, they explore every nook and cranny of their environment. The perspectives given to the various images are worthy of close attention and much discussion while sharing this book with young readers. Eyes will be constantly drawn to the visual treats on each page.

An author's note reveals what led to her writing this book, and her need for children to understand the beauty and wonder of our planet.

"Every time I think of all the plants and animals and earth systems that make it possible for me to lie back in the sunshine without a care in the world, I feel so grateful and lucky, I want to dance a jig. So when you finish reading, I hope you will put this book down, grab the hands of someone you love, and give a gigantic jump for joy as you twirl around the sun."

This is the third book created by Elin Kelsey and Soyeon Kim. It is another stunning collaboration, following on the success of You Are Stardust (2012) and Wild Ideas (2015).

Check out the inside of the dust jacket cover for a challenge, or two.

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