Sunday, February 22, 2009

Who Says?

Picture books are not wanted anymore...WRONG! They are much more expensive to produce, though. And therefor should become a coveted form of art and story. I predict that picture books, after a long period of absence, will re-emerge in a way that was never imagined even five years ago. I do. They are treasures of our culture...real windows into the dual world of writing and image-making. I can't imagine living without them.

I had to wait for Wabi Sabi, written by Mark Reibstein and masterfully illustrated by Ed Young. I'd read a piece about the lost original illustrations that showed up in the back of a church. By then,  Ed Young had completed the second round of illustrations. I was excited about the storyline, because I teach world cultures to sixth graders. But, Wabi Sabi, so it seems, was in high demand. There were none on the shelves. Now, I know why. 

Wabi Sabi is, on the surface, a pretty common type of kitty, one that would probably live its life unremarked upon by most passersby. She takes a journey, one my kids at school would call...'a steppingstone' type of trip, to find out the true nature of her name. It is in the less perfect, the ordinary, that she finds the absolute true meaning of who she is and what that means.

Wabi Sabi herself is a teacher, much like the picture book itself. In my collection, I have many, many picture books...most, you'd have to wrestle me down to the floor for! In fact, if there ever was a real fire at school...I'd probably be the last one out of the building. I'd be stuffing my bags with all the magnificent works of art that sit on that shelf along the wall across from my desk...not too far from my watchful eye. Picture books are incredible launching points for lessons...in writing, in world cultures, in life. In all of these hard times, I do think the picture book will survive...and perhaps make some sort of comeback. These are the times when our spirits need a lift, a small escape of the thirty-two page illustrated type, a little wabi sabi book that has it all...a small kitty, a little journey, a bit of haiku from the masters, and an eyeful of beauty!

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