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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#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

mormoni

Ethics came from man,
morals from God.
One set of rules changed as humans progressed,
but the other had been written in stone by the finger of the Lord.

The only 2 lovers I would ever have
would become my husbands;
the other 2 men in my life
would be lifelong friends–
the former, my brother,
the latter,
my confessor.

The Mormons liked to lay claim
to any celebrity as being one of them–
as if they were a piece of uranium.
They wore the cloak of victimhood,
of perceived persecution,
like the robe of royalty.
They saw themselves as “The Other”.
They wanted the world to liken them to the Jews,
the Irish,
the Africans,
but they were no more persecuted than any other Christian;
they may have been told to “Go to hell,”
but no one in the Deep South had ever threatened to send them there.
It wasn’t persecution to have been driven out of a territory
when you were breaking the laws of the land
by marrying numerous women.
That’s what affairs were for.

My virginity would make me worthy
of a returned missionary,
my motherhood, of eternal life.
Sainthood would be mine.

David loved the natural world,
just as Mother & Caitlin loved the spiritual,
except that Caitlin’s was through the prism of Catholicism
& Mother’s, Mormonism.
I was caught somewhere between the 2,
for I could not imagine a world more beautiful than the one we lived in.
The only reason our world wasn’t so was because of man,
who’d been given dominion over all earthly creations,
unlike God,
who had dominion over the heavenly ones.

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #484: Summer

Pretty.jpg

Summer is Longer Here

She is the interlude who dances between the equinoxes,
her breath hot,
humid,
floral.
She is the intermission between grades–
not an interruption of education
but a continuance of all that is learned
beyond the glossy walls covered with old tape and dirty fingerprints,
of thin carpet pebbled with dried glue and freckled with chalkboard dust–
all of which make up the little factories that teach every child
like he or she was the same child.
She is the time for sleeping till not sleepy,
of standing in the rain without catching a cold,
and making messes outside that don’t have to be cleaned up.
She is the time for playing in the sun and sitting in the shade,
of lemon icebox pie on little saucers
and raspberry mint lemonade in tall glasses,
with more ice cubes than ade.
Then it is time to grow up,
and life is no longer measured in spring breaks
or summer vacations,
passing grades
or failing semesters.
Times such as summers gone by no longer come in huge swaths
but in moments strung together.
These former children find themselves wishing
they had enjoyed those summers even more,
but they did not know what they could not see
and now,
those moments stolen from themselves are spent
making their children’s summers everything they will remember
and one day long for.

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 485

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

Mormoni

My sadness begat anger,
& my anger begat a strength
& a different hope for the future,
ushering in a new era,
with no man I could see.

I was Eve,
except I was the fruit
that was the temptation.
I was Ruth,
who followed another man’s God.
I was an unnamed daughter of Lot.

The love Elder Roberts had for me
was the milk—
a diluter of strength,
whereas Brad’s love was the sugar,
which made so many other things
better.
But David’s,
David’s was the base—
the coffee—
for it was the strongest.

Unrequited love on my side
made me bitter;
unrequited love on his side
made me wistful.
When I found my love
& he found me,
I found contentment.

Even as Catholic priests took vows of poverty,
chastity,
& obedience,
the Mormon vows of marriage,
children,
& clean living applied to all members.

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

Mormoni

My friends had jobs, boyfriends, cars. I began to want what they had, when before, David had always been enough.

“I would say forever, but good-bye is never forever in the Church. God be with you till we meet again in the celestial kingdom,” he said.

In Mother’s eyes, the Church was God. Nothing they would ever do & nothing I could ever say would sway her, for God had been re-created in their image.

Seven days had passed since I had received Elder Roberts’ letter, each day feeling like 1000 years, or “God” years.

The way Caitlin looked at Mr. Hobson just then was a way she had never looked at David—as a father.

The Hobson family had become part of the fabric of Green Haven, even as we had become the scraps that had been discarded.

I felt as if a whole new world was opening to me, for now that Mother had left mine, it left more room for other things, & other people.

In a few months, the Hobsons were very much a part of the town, whereas we were still finding our place in Green Haven, being “The Others.”

The space around Brad became my confessional, for Brad became my priest during those days when I believed Elder Roberts was gone from me forever.

As I began to be like other teenagers, David’s influence on me lessened. He was no longer the entirety of my world.

As the month drew closer to the Christmas holidays, without any word from Elder Roberts, I finally said good-bye in my heart to my Mormon soldier.

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

Mormoni

Mother was Odile,
I, Odette—
the two-headed swan
Sister Wiley sought to split.

Maxwell Manor was too big to be called a house,
too quiet to be called a home.
It was The Waiting Place,
where David resided,
unchanging.

A bitterness,
hard & brittle,
began to form,
hardening my heart.
Elder Roberts had made his choice—
a choice that hadn’t included me.

As surely as God had brought Elder Roberts & I together,
his Church had torn us asunder.
I’d kept every commandment,
but broken all the rules.

Like Father de Bricassart with his Meggie,
Elder Roberts would love his Church more than me,
& give to it
what it would take from me.