If a Zen koan can change a life, there's no reason a children's book can't — and many do. Julie Fogliano and Loren Long's poetic new book simply restores the heart, and in an agitated world, that restoration is life changing. In pairs of page spreads, three lines present a call:
"if i was the sunshine
and you were the day
i'd call you hello!"
and then a response:
"and you'd call me stay."
In the pictures accompanying these welcoming and Zen-like lines, a rooster announces dawn as two cows race down a hill and a farmer and daughter hurry across a meadow, all converging on a yellow barn bathed in early morning light and shadow; the next spread reveals a serene milking scene. Anyone who grew up treasuring illustrations in the Little Golden Books series will appreciate the old-fashioned "all's right with the world" feeling that comes through.
And that's only two pages! When the farm descends into winter, we witness a hibernating bear ("i'd call you whisper") who then rejoices on the spring-time hills with two cubs ("you'd call me sing"). We see skunks sniffing roses — with mutual respect, of course; a pileated woodpecker chipping away at his tree; a worm enjoying his apple lunch.
The verses become more and more mystical. The sky calls the mountain "almost" while the mountain calls the sky "high." Silence calls a sound "missing" while the sound calls silence "found." This rich poetic surprise reaches its height with:
"if you were a firefly
and i was the dark
you'd call me everywhere"
As we see the little girl from the start of the story facing one flash of light in the hayfield on the dark forest's edge, we turn the page to:
"and i'd call you spark."
New York Times bestselling storytellers Fogliano and Long have painted a world of marvelous co-existence: animals and people, silence and sound, encompassing darkness and pinpoints of light. We trust that many 4-to-8-year-olds will find consolation and even some penetrating mystical insight — at the level of a child's intuition — in these pages.