In the Beginning.... : Once Upon a Memory by Nana Laden
DOES A FEATHER REMEMBER IT ONCE WAS A BIRD?
DOES A BOOK REMEMBER IT WAS ONCE... A WORD?
Snug in his room with his toy animals around him, the window open to the soft, warm air, a boy notices a downy feather floating by and his thoughts turn to the beginnings of things.
Things as they are now were once something else. Does a statue know that it used to be just a hunk of stone? Does the sea remember when it was just rain?
Thoughts turn to his own world. His family, now three, was once just two--two separate strangers. Someday he will not be a child. Will he remember his early self thinking about his future self?
Thinking about the nature of being and time and the memory which links the past, present, and future is pretty deep stuff for a picture book, but in her newest, Once Upon a Memory (Little, Brown, 2013), author Nina Laden uses comfortable rhyming couplets, a form that is soothes rather than disturbs, making the concept of transitions in the material world seem to flow forth naturally. In this task, she draws upon the art of Renata Liwska (The Quiet Book). Liwska's pencil illustrations, done in soft, smudgy line, delicately cross-hatched shadings, and muted color accents, show the main character safe with his animals and ease the reader into free-form thoughts of time and transition. Difficult concepts made easy in the confluence of text and art.