Mythic Poetry in The Girl Who Saved Yesterday by Julius Lester and Carl Angel ~ Post by Mira Reisberg
Julius Lester’s The Girl Who Saved Yesterday, published by the wonderful Marissa Moss at Creston Books, is a powerful story with strong mythical qualities, full of beautiful metaphors holding deeper truths. A young girl is found abandoned at the foot of a large mountain near a small village. She is convinced her parents live at the top and every day begins a journey to return there. But the villagers are afraid her persistence will anger the spirits, and believing that they are doing the right thing, they take the young girl into a large forest and abandon her. She is adopted by the ancient trees that populate the forest, and they name her Silence. Years pass, and some of the trees start getting sick--they tell Silence that she needs to save Yesterday. None of them can tell her what that means, but it does require her to return to the village where she used to live. Silence’s return to her old village prompts an unusual light storm from the mountain where she was found years ago, an occurrence the villagers live in fear of. Following the trails of light, Silence discovers a field of bright stones at the top of the mountain, representations of their ancestors who have been forgotten by the villagers. These stones are central to saving the trees and helping the villagers remember. But will Silence be able to break through the ignorance and betrayals? You'll have to read it to find out.
Julius Lester is a fantastic author whose writing carries strong mythical qualities, full of beautiful metaphors containing deeper truths. His descriptive similes pack surprisingly emotional punches despite the dream-like quality of his words - “Before anyone could ask, Sun began sliding from the sky like disappointment that would never be redeemed.” This story is absolutely haunting and memorable in the best of ways.
Carl Angel does a magnificent job of bringing this legend-inspiring story to life. From the very beginning, Silence’s adoptive family of trees captures the reader’s attention and doesn’t let it go. While the trees do have humanoid characteristics, they are clearly enigmas with facial features reminiscent of wooden tribal masks seen in a wide variety of cultures. His work with color to provide impact and emphasize light and darkness is truly remarkable, and many of his illustrations have a slightly blurred soft-focus effect that adds to the mythical quality of Silence’s journey to save Yesterday.
The Girl Who Saved Yesterday is a wonderful book that will leave you contemplative for a long time after you finish reading, and Julius Lester and Carl Angel were the perfect team to set this masterpiece to paper.
And now for a quickie disclaimer before a short video review, followed by a super helpful interview with Carl himself. Carl is a beautiful longtime friend who I'm honored to be in the book Honoring Our Ancestors with and whom I've been fortunate enough to have lots of creative adventures with over the past couple of decades. I hope you'll love Carl and this book as much as I do.
Just two other books illustrated by Carl.
And here we have a wonderful interview with the fabulous Carl Angel himself! Take a look at what he has to say about his beautiful work on The Girl Who Saved Yesterday.
Next, we'll be looking at another lovely mythic tale by Pauline Ts'o, published by an independent publishing house, Wisdom Tales.
Beautiful Hands, written by Bret Baumgarten and illustrated by Kathryn Otoshi is based on the author’s experience of holding his children’s hands and asking them, ‘“What will your beautiful hands do today?”’
A deeply personal book for both the author and illustrator, this stunning page-turner is filled with illustrations created entirely from the handprints of the author’s and illustrator’s family members. The handprints of over one hundred family members and friends make up the rainbow that arches across the closing spread of the book.
In lyrical language, this book explores the many ways someone can use their hands. Readers become engaged in a lilting conversation:
What will your beautiful hands do today?
Will they plant…
What will they plant?
And, as the reader begins to answer the question – trees? Flowers? Seeds? – the page-turn reveals a lovely surprise:
The colorful and imaginative artwork that fills the pages add to the magic and of this book. The illustrations are mesmerizing. Each creatively crafted image is its own world of wonder. Readers will find themselves examining the letters and pictures wondering, How is this possible? How did she do it?
Through words and art, Beautiful Hands stretches possibility. A reader realizes, Oh! my hands can do physical things, but they can do much more than that! I can make handprints with paint, and handprints can become butterflies, dragons, birds and lights!
This deceptively simple book will appeal to young readers and adults alike. It can grow with its kids. Children will love the colors, pictures and questions. These same colors, pictures and questions take on deeper, more thoughtful meaning as one matures. It is a book that can be used as a source of inspiration in classrooms ranging from Kindergarten to college, from English to Art. Like its sweet message, its possibilities are endless.
With artful simplicity, Beautiful Hands challenges readers to do and be more. Our hands can do physical things, but they can also stretch imagination, reach for love and help others. It is a gem for any bookshelf or library. Don’t be surprised if your copy is quickly covered with flurries of little handprints of its own!
Author Brett Baumgarten and illustrator Kathryn Otoshi of Beautiful Hands.
Here are some more wonderful books illustrated (and written!) by Kathryn Otoshi:
If you don't know Tara Lazar, you should. She's the warm, funny, ultra-talented founder of Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) and the author of some wonderful picture books. I love all of Tara's books but am especially sweet on Little Red Gliding Hood, written by Tara and illustrated by Troy Cummings. It's a fun fractured fairy tale that swizzles and twizzles its way through the enchanted forest as it follows the story of Little Red. Tara references the traditional Red Riding Hood story while making it completely fresh and new, weaving twists and turns throughout this quirky book. As Little Red glides throughout her adventures, she encounters no less than eighteen fairy tale and nursery rhyme characters, all true to character with cleverly incorporated surprises!
Little Red skates to her Grandma’s house every Sunday, but her skates are “worn-in and worn-out, no longer snow white, and a little too tight.” Unless she can figure out a way to get some new skates she won’t be able to visit her Grandma anymore!
Oh slippery slush! There's a pairs skating competition, and the prize is, you guessed it, a pair of brand new skates! Little Red needs to find a partner, but everyone she knows is already paired up. She rushes to Grandma’s to get some advice and ultimately finds an unlikely skating partner. But, will they be able to win the competition?
Troy Cummings’ brightly colored illustrations add to the humor and magic of Little Red’s story. His cartoonish interpretations play up the wackiness of the story, while simultaneously tying everything – characters from different stories and lands – into one sweet and hilarious whole. The detailed facial expressions and costuming of each character are enough to make a reader laugh on their own! His choice of bold pastel colors creates an enchanting winter setting for Little Red and the Big Bad Wolf’s adventures on ice.
Little Red Gliding Hood is a fun adventure that turns familiar stories on their heads.
If you're up for it, here's our slightly over 6 minute review with some peeks at the illustrations and a bit more about the underlying meanings.
Here are a few more of Tara's books.
Please show Tara and us some love by commenting below and sharing :)
Below is a list of professional books for teachers of writing. However, I'm positive that children's writers would gain something from them as well. Some of these are new and some were new a few years ago, and have been sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read. I'm really excited about these books and can't wait to dive into them. What's on your summer reading list?
We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome new bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with Clear Fork/Spork editor/art director, former agent and former kidlit professor Mira Reisberg PhD who is also the Director of the Children's Book Academy.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer, man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
4th Mondays feature funny Aussie author Sharon Giltrow sharing awesome Aussie books.
And 5th Mondays will feature Libyan American author Koloud Tarapolsi sharing wonderful diverse books.