The Weaver

The Weaver by Thacher Hurd, illustrated by Elisa Kleven

At sunrise, the weaver watches the whole world from above, her hands already at work.  Her thread is formed from “trails of shooting stars, white clouds, and spiderwebs hung with dew.”  She dyes the thread with morning colors from the world and then she begins to weave with her loom.  She captures in her weaving, images from the day: kisses, laughter and love.  As evening falls, her work is done and she dances across the earth spreading her tapestry over the world where it enters our dreams.

This mystical, beautiful picture book is filled with colorful and joyful imagery.  Hurd writes with a confidence and gentleness that suit this book well.  His writing is in poem form but without rhymes.  Rather it is the gentle rhythm of the loom that is part of his text and weaves it seamlessly together. 

Kleven’s artistic style pairs beautifully with this subject matter.  Her softness and details play out beautifully in the vistas that we see.  The tapestry itself is gloriously depicted, filled with colors and floating effortlessly in the air.  It is weightless, semi-transparent, yet all important.

A perfect bedtime book, this is one to curl up with together and simply enjoy.  I guarantee sweet dreams when tucked in with this blanket.  Appropriate for ages 3-7.

Reviewed from copy received from Farrar Straus Giroux.

Alfie Runs Away

Alfie Runs Away by Kenneth M. Cadow, illustrated by Lauren Castillo

Alfie’s mother has gone too far!  She wants to give away his favorite shoes and get him new ones.  So Alfie decides to run away.  As he packs his things, his mother makes helpful suggestions, like taking a water bottle, snacks and a flashlight.  She gets him a bag to help carry his items, suggests he take his teddy bear and some books too.  With all that to carry, Alfie can’t go far.  But he does make it all the way deep into the backyard, still wearing his too-small beloved shoes.  When he gets there, he has a drink, a snack, and takes his shoes off and puts his aching feet in the cool grass.  When he takes them off, he puts them on his bear where they fit perfectly.  Now the only thing missing was the hug he refused earlier.  Luckily, his mother is headed out to see him with her arms open wide.

The tone in this book is spot on.  Cadow both respects Alfie’s perspective on the situation and yet shows a loving, warm mother who allows Alfie to learn his own lessons.  There are lovely moments in the book where Alfie’s mother gently suggests he not wear those shoes and when she offers to put his rejected hug in his bag to carry along with him.  Cadow manages to show Alfie’s frustration and his mothers calmness side by side without either overshadowing the other.

Castillo’s illustrations feature the shoes in bright red as a focal point.  She too balances the relationship of mother and son visually.  Her illustrations have soft edges and feel cozy and warm.  They ensure that children will not be alarmed at this boy running away.  Alfie’s facial expressions really project his moods clearly, moving from his initial anger to contentment at the end.

I packed my bags and ran away as a little girl.  All the way down the driveway and over to a bush in the neighbors yard.  I had no idea my mother could still see me out the window.  I was sure I had gone far, far away.  This book captures the situation with simplicity and honesty.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Farrar Straus Giroux.