Time happens in the ticking of a clock, but it can also be seen in a flower. It starts with the seed, quiet and waiting in the dark. The flower emerges with bright petals. The picked flower then droops, releases those colorful petals. Time is also a tree, one that can grow beside you. It may be shorter than you at first, but who will be taller in ten years? How about fifty years? Time is a spider’s web, made carefully and invisibly. Time is transformation, a mountain eroding into a pebble or a butterfly that used to be a caterpillar. Time is sunsets, sun beams on the floor, the shine of moonlight at night. It is photographs with memories or your hair growing longer. It is a batch of bread rising and baking, or a song moving, or a wiggly loose tooth. It can move slow or fast, depending on what you are doing. It takes different shapes, moving through your day in all sorts of ways.
This quiet look at time offers so many ways to view the passage of time. Children will see themselves in some of the impatience or how wonderful times go far too quickly. The use of a flower at the beginning of the book broadens to include many examples of time passing through a regular day. Morstad’s writing is poetic and simple, the stanzas inviting readers to linger and think about time.
The illustrations are done in pencil, markers, colored inks, pastels and digitally. They have a dynamic vintage feel with an edge of modernity that invites you to explore. From the purple glow of a seed in the dark ground to the pastel softness of a butterfly’s wing to the beauty of a changing sunset that turns the page to a starry blue night, these illustrations capture the wonder of small moments in life.
Take your time with this one. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Throughout a day in a meadow, readers will explore what is happening now and then what also was. The sky is blue until the rain comes. The rain was falling and now is puddles for animals to sip from. The fox is stalking the yellow bird who was drinking from the puddle. The buzz from the bees is in the sunshine. The shadow of a hawk is where the chipmunk was. Quiet comes to the meadow as the light changes to evening with its pinks and purples where blue once was. A child swinging in the evening joins their mother on the porch to watch the sky change and enjoy the quiet that is nightfall and the day that was.
Freedman excels at using only the words needed to keep the story flowing. The movement of now to past swirls past the reader again and again as time moves forward and circumstances change slowly and quickly. The wildlife in the meadow is a marvelous look at change as is the weather and the sky itself. It creates a vibrant look at the creatures themselves, their interaction and the sweep of the day as it passes with rain and sun.
The illustrations are full of color and light. From the golden sun of buzzing bees to the blue of rain to the pinks of the sunset arriving. Freedman allows some of the pages to stand with few or no words, showing the meadow grasses, stone wall and flowering trees, allowing the quiet to be still for the reader too.
A lovely look at our world as moments pass. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Hurry Up! by Kate Dopirak, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal (9781534424975)
A child with wild black hair wakes up to a ringing alarm clock, rushes down the stairs and off to the school bus. At school everyone continues to rush and hurry throughout their day, until they hurry back onto the bus. The child rushes home, dashes through their homework, and then hurries to walk the dog. Stop! Slow down and look around at the day. Spend time with your dog and take a breath. Stay out until the stars emerge, find fireflies, and then head home. The rush is done.
Dopirak creates a breathless beginning to her book that is impossible to read without your heart rate increasing a bit. The hurried and harried life of this child reflects many of our own. The slower part is just as successful, encouraging the character and the reader to breathe and slow down. The abrupt STOP! is very effective in changing the pace and insisting upon a new one.
Neal’s illustrations provide us with a young protagonist who could be any gender. With a shock of wild hair that captures the frenzy of the early part of the book, this character is central to the story and manages to slow down and point out the small things that make a day special.
Trying to slow down to pandemic speed? This picture book shows alone time outside as one of the best times of day. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
This picture book celebrates living in the now as a little girl walks readers through her favorite things. Each of them is her favorite because it is the one she is interacting with right then. It is her favorite cloud because it’s the one she is watching. This is her favorite song because it’s the one she is singing.
The book is pure simplicity with its concept and the art. The concept is used throughout the book, the writing straight forward and also celebrating something deeper too. It’s about a connection to the present moment and a joy in just spending time doing exactly what you are doing and loving it.
The art of the picture book also speaks to the connection with the now. Done in thick lines and rich matte colors, the illustrations show the playful nature of simple pleasures in life.
Perfect for those of us who love the book we are reading right now most of all, this picture book is about simple pleasures and enjoying the current moment fully. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Before and after takes a humorous turn in this picture book. The first part of each pair of illustrations shows normalcy. Then something happens and everything changes. In the first pages, there are items from a beach and then after the storm things are tipped over, towels blow away, and ice cream falls. Lunch is shown and then after lunch everything is munched and changed. Other changes get more silly such as animals going to a hairdresser or mislabeled objects get relabeled or creatures eat too many potato chips.
Veillé has created a picture book that is a joy to share. The pictures are fun to explore and children will love spotting the differences. There is a zany nature to the illustrations, done in simple lines and bright, flat colors. The simplicity adds to the fun as the objects shift and change after an event.
Much more than a concept book, this is a funny and wry look at the chaos of life before and after. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
This picture book explores time and the way that things happen all at once across the world. Small moments are captured from various countries: an elevator stuck in New York City, a horn honks in traffic in Mexico, a volcano erupts, a boy learns to balance on his bike. One after another these snapshots of time are happening all at once and yet also form a lovely series of events that are all entirely human and show how interrelated our world actually is.
The concept is at once immensely simple and also incredibly complex, the understanding that your own life is just one of many being lived at the very same time. Martins embraces that duality in the book, capturing those universal moments but also showing the diversity around the world. A guide at the end of the book includes a map of where the various events take place all at the same time. There is a distinct wonder to the book, a feeling that the world is both larger and smaller than it had seemed to be a second before.
Carvalho’s illustrations are bold and graphic. He uses thick black lines to create scenes that are active and beautiful. One page contrasts with the next, showing diverse people and settings. The result is a feeling of moving clearly from one place to the next with each turn of the page, from lush jungles to concrete settings, from bright sunlight to clouded evening.
Perfect to start discussions about time and place and even time zones, this picture book allows children to think in a bigger way about their world, diversity and their own place. Appropriate for ages 4-7.
Reviewed from copy received from Enchanted Lion Books.
Sedgwick once again takes readers on a unique journey, this time all bound together by spirals both symbolically and tangibly. Told in four sections, which Sedgwick explains can be read in any order, the book begins in Paleolithic time with a young girl who has become a woman but not yet borne children being selected to travel to the special caves where someone more important with do the painting on the cave walls. She is meant solely to climb the walls burdened with his supplies. But the story twists and turns away from what is expected into a different story entirely. The second tale is of the witch hunts in England, where another girl is trying to survive after her mother’s death. Her mother was the cunning woman of the village, caring for the health of everyone. And the girl has caught the eye of the landowner’s son, but things are not that simple and when a new religious leader comes to town, the girl finds herself at the sharp end of his attention. The third tale brings readers into the world of a 1920s asylum for the mentally ill where a poet who is incarcerated there is obsessed with spirals and draws a young doctor into his world. The final story is set in the future, aboard a spaceship where only one person wakes at a time, keeping the ship maintained as it heads on its lengthy journey that will save the human race. Then things start going wrong. Four stories, each spiraled with one another into a whole novel that is dark, deep and incredibly engaging.
Each of these stories stands on its own merit, each one more dazzling than the next. Yet as a whole it is where they are truly powerful, tied together with spirals of time, spirals of power, the spiral of humanity too. Sedgwick excels at creating tension in each of these stories, each building ever so cleverly and enticingly towards an ending that readers long to arrive and yet dread. Sometimes you know where they are headed, others you have no idea, and in each there are connections to the others, echoes from one story to the next through time and space.
This is a book that requires strong teen readers. Some of the stories are less about teens than about adults, yet it is the stories of those teen girls that echo through time, tying the stories into one novel. It is a book that will be welcomed in high school classrooms, one that insists on discussion, one that will resonate with certain readers who see the world as one enormous spiral too.
Exquisite writing, beautifully plotted and filled with powerful tension, this novel for teens is a great way to start a new year. Appropriate for ages 14-18.
Reviewed from digital galley received from Roaring Brook Press and Netgalley.
The passage of time is captured beautifully in this wordless book that shows one example after another of before and then after. The book is a delightful mix of concepts with examples from nature, pop culture and plenty of humor. An acorn before becomes an oak tree after. A small ape before becomes King Kong after. Ingredients become a cake and a few pages later the cake is eaten and left as crumbs. But what came first, the chicken or the egg. This book takes a wry and balanced view of that debate by showing both in sequence. One never knows what the page turn will bring, and that’s part of the appeal in this clever and funny book.
Wordless books are often short, but this book is nice and thick, the entire book offering lots to think about and plenty of chuckles along the way. While it may seem to be more for preschoolers, older elementary aged children will get more of the references in the book like the chicken and the egg and King Kong. They will also appreciate the passage of time visually on the page as ice melts to water. Additionally, some of the images are more complex with a cow becoming milk but also becoming a picture of a cow. Very meta.
For children with reading difficulties in elementary school, this would be a great book to start discussions. It is also a wonderful way to wile away some time looking at an outstanding example of wordless art that delights. Appropriate for ages 5-9.
The first book in a new fantasy trilogy by a debut author, this novel features incredible world-building and an amazing young heroine. The world changed when the Great Disruption happened in 1799. When the Disruption occurred different points of time were merged together into a single world. Now almost 100 years after the Disruption, Sophia lives in Boston which is part of New Occident. She lives with her uncle after her parents disappeared while exploring other eras when she was a child. Her uncle is one of the best map makers and map readers in the world, a skill that become necessary when the world changed. But then her uncle is kidnapped and their home ransacked. Sophia finds herself journeying to Nochtland with a boy she just met following a clue her uncle left her before he was taken. Her journey will lead her to different times and different places in the company of many different characters. Little does she know, but it’s a journey to save the world.
Grove’s novel brims with details about this new world she has envisioned. The world is a unique one, unlike anything I have ever read before. It’s a mix of historical fiction, fantasy, science fiction and adventure. The addition of the different eras in time makes for a book that is surprising and great fun to read. It also offers all sorts of new and varied adventures for the subsequent books in the trilogy.
I must admit to not being a huge fan of books with lots of traveling and quests, but Grove maintains the brisk pace of the novel throughout and the travel is an important part of the story itself. Grove brings her world fully to life, making sure to fill it with characters that readers will embrace and enjoy spending time with. Sophia is a girl with lots of brains and plenty of bravery, but one who has been sheltered much of her life. My favorite character though is the villain of the story, Blanca, who steals memories from people using sand. She is incredibly creepy and frightening, yet has her own motivation and goals beyond just stealing memories.
Get this into the hands of fans of complex fantasy like The Golden Compass, they will find a whole new world to love here. Appropriate for ages 11-14.