Book Review: Blue

Blue

As part of my Post-K Summer Reading Boot Camp:
https://sarahleastories.com/2019/06/08/post-k-summer-reading-boot-camp-2019

The more I read this book, the more I liked it. The keyhole cutouts in the delightful thickness of these pages seemed unnecessary, but my daughter enjoyed locating them; the book’s square shape and the large, simple, bold font is perfection. The lush, sumptuous color—bright but not unnaturally so—so beautifully textured, is stunning. Most of these pages, given the panoramic treatment in double-page spreads that bleed into the spine, would make perfect nursery art: the deep, twilight blue butterflies were like something out of a Technicolor fairy tale, the water shooting out of the garden hose captured the summertime magic of childhood, the granular texture of the snow against the smooth, sable brown of the tree was striking, and the brushstrokes depicting the frothy whitecaps looked so real, I almost expected to feel seafoam.

Simply titled, Blue has a very organic feel—a certain spirituality and harmony with nature (including human nature). It is a childlike, coming-of-age tale.

The concept is rather interesting, for how many unexpected ways can we describe blue using the word blue (i.e. besides light, dark, powder, navy, etc.)? It’s almost like a series of paintings turned into a poem. Everything that was described as blue was connected with an emotion, a state of being, or something gifted to us by the Creator; Laura Vaccaro Seeger totally nailed midnight blue.

Though few words, it tells a story. Each two-word set “maybe blue,” “true blue,” etc., I treated as the title of the story that the pictures painted. Blue is open-ended enough where you can add to the story, but not so open-ended that there is no story. I’m not a fan of wordless picture books (and this was close to it), but the way I felt while “reading” this timeless tale of friendship—the boy growing up while his dog grew old—resonated with me. No preaching, no message—just life—distilled into the most poignant parts.

It was sweet that the boy (now a young man who had yet to befriend another dog) met his true love through their love of dogs—her dog actually seems to choose him first, as if it sensed another dog lover, leading (or rather, dragging) her to her destiny.

My daughter liked this one, and I enjoyed reading it to her. Blue is the kind of book I read when I want not just to make a memory but a connection. If there was a complete set on all the colors, I would buy everyone one of these books.

Suggested activity: Numbers, letters, shapes, and colors are some of the earliest building blocks of learning. When I was a child, getting Crayola’s 64-count with the built-in sharpener was something quite magical. Try having your child come up with naming their own colors (they don’t have to be blue; I was always intrigued by names like periwinkle and lavender; if your child is older, you can come up with double adjectives, like mascarpone-white or tiramisu-tan. Someone has to come up with all of those names, after all. For a field trip, go to a paint store and get a handful of paint sample cards (which I’ve used to make Christmas cards: https://onelittleproject.com/paint-chip-christmas-cards/). And take time out to visit the author’s website. It’s gorgeous! https://studiolvs.com/

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37534395-blue

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Book Review: Drawn Together

Drawn

As part of my Post-K Summer Reading Boot Camp:
https://sarahleastories.com/2019/06/08/post-k-summer-reading-boot-camp-2019 

This book’s heart was in the right place, but I don’t particularly enjoy picture books unless the illustrations are simple (usually board books).  The ad-libbing I had to do at the beginning was too much work for a bedtime story.  

However, I liked the idea of this book–of an Americanized grandson and his traditional grandfather communicating through art, though I wondered why the grandson never tries to learn his grandfather’s first (and seemingly only) language (which I’m assuming is Vietnamese as that is the author’s ethnicity), just as I wondered why the grandfather hasn’t tried to learn any English.  Wouldn’t it make sense to at least try to learn some rudimentary language that is prevalent in your country of residence? I would’ve much preferred to see grandfather and -son at least struggle to understand one another via the spoken word rather than just accept that they will never be able to communicate in any other way except through art; even then, they can’t have a conversation about what they’ve created–proof that a picture does not equal 1000 words.

The art is well-done (the picture of the grandfather and son hugging strummed my heartstrings), even if it isn’t my style (I’m not into dragons and superheroes).  I appreciate Mr. Santat’s art the way I appreciate Shakespeare, opera, and Andy Warhol; such takes an incredible amount of talent and skill to draw with such precision and infusion of color–it just wasn’t for me. 

With books like these, I wonder why the author should get top billing over the illustrator–the illustrator carried this story.  There’s only 102 words in the book.  

Suggested activity:  Art was my favorite class in elementary school; I try to pass that love down to my daughter by showing her that art is fun–by doing it with her.  For a child who prefers music to art (like mine), you have to think outside the crayon box. A blog I have found extremely useful for affordable art ideas is The Artful Parent:  https://artfulparent.com/

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34791219-drawn-together

Poem-a-Day April 2018 Writer’s Digest Challenge #20. Theme: “Earlier Line”

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When Art Lost its Tangibility

1000 Years in the Future

With every year that passed,
the world became more senseless.
Crayons disappeared,
markers faded,
colored pencils became dull.
There was no more paint,
no more sculpture.
Music–
created by the computers
or their programmers–
was piped in everywhere,
scattering the thoughts of the populace
as in the world of Harrison Bergeron.

There was a uniformity to everything–
a measure of control in a chaotic world
that sought to make everything smaller,
greener.

For they said the earth had run out of room
for art that took up actual space.
Through computer applications,
a New Art for a New Era was created
by the creators–
as virtual space was infinite space.
Thus the tactile processes of creating art
was lost,
and craft stores had gone the way of
small businesses.
Photographers and graphic designers became
the modern artists.

And so, when batteries died and
the electricity went out,
the art went with it.
And this art that had lost its smell
was but a memory
that no description
could ever do justice,
for human recall was the height
of fallibility.

And when the power grid shut down,
a group of bored children came upon an old schoolhouse
that had not been touched by urban decay,
but by rural depression, isolation, and apathy.
It was in a cobwebby closet that they found
the pencils and the crayons,
yet they knew not what to do with them.

But then one remembered a film from long ago–
saved from the Ban and Burn 100 years before–
where fingers weren’t the tools,
but rather, held the tools.
It was then that human hands reclaimed the functionality
that had once created beauty
(even as the artists of the New Era could only capture
and rearrange it)–
the kind of art that was as messy
as it was beautiful.

And when the power returned forty years later
following The Rebuilding,
the world glowed with screens once more,
but it had become alive again through a New Renaissance.

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2018-april-pad-challenge-day-20

On Words and Colors

BW

A dictionary is to a writer
what a palette is to an artist.
We learn to use these new colors,
be they against a blank canvas,
a blank screen,
or a blank sheet of paper,
through passionate practice.
Coloring and writing between the lines
with shades of colors and subtext—
the hand and mind of a true artist of either discipline,
knows how to use both in the way
that delights or enlightens not just the creator,
but the recipient.

Some of my Favorite Things about Being a Writer

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  1. I can do it from here to there; I can do it anywhere.
  2. It’s cheap.  I don’t have to spend a small fortune on art supplies to create my art.  Pen and paper, or a little laptop will do.
  3. Unlike photography, I don’t have to try to capture others when they’re not looking.  I can write about them without them even knowing it.
  4. I can brainstorm ideas while in bed (trying to go to sleep).
  5. It’s a great gig for introverts (like me).
  6. I can wash, rinse, repeat.  I don’t have to start all over again, like I would, for the most part, with a drawing.  I can finish the entire project, and then go back and edit.
  7. It helps me keep my vocabulary, spelling, and grammar skills sharp.
  8. I can write a book one time, and make money off of more than one copy (unlike a painting, that can only be sold once by the painter).
  9. I can kill off people I don’t like.
  10. I can live vicariously through my characters.  I can travel the world, work exciting jobs, and yes, assassinate my enemies.