Sunday, August 02, 2020

Always There: Love and the Rocking Chair by Leo and Diane Dillon

Many years ago, a young couple stood in a sea of chairs, searching for just the right one.

"Look at that chair over there. It's perfect for the baby's room!" the young woman said.

And just a few days afterward, the young couple's baby arrived, and the young mother rocked him in the chair and sang songs until he slept. And when he was a bit older, his father read stories while he rocked him before bedtime. Then, as he grew bigger, the boy pretended that the rocking chair was a galloping horse crossing the wild prairie.

But as the baby became a boy, the chair gradually filled with outgrown toys and books, all forgotten as he found new games with his friends. All too soon, the boy becomes a young man, off to college and new friends.
The chair was moved to the attic. Sometimes the young man came home to visit. But the rocker was forgotten, gathering dust. Years went by.

The father grew older. One day the young man came back. His father had died, and he came to comfort his mother.

But on a happier day the young man returned to introduce his mother to the young woman he wanted to marry, and not so long after they moved in with his mother because they were expecting a baby. Then the young man remembered the chair.
"I'll go get it!" he said. He lovingly dusted it off and placed it back where it belonged.

And one day author-illustrator Diane Dillon lovingly dusted off and completed the book she and her late husband Leo Dillon had begun years before, along with the re-purposed rocking chair that is the symbol of enduring family love as it is passed along to yet another generation. Author-illustrators Leo and Diane Dillon, winners of two Caldecott Awards and many others, fortunately kept their original manuscript to be reborn as Love and the Rocking Chair Blue Sky Press, 2019), passed along for another generation of their family and for other families to enjoy. For new parents, it is a gift that remains after the new onesies have become too snug and the push toys are outgrown, Booklist says, "Endearing, sentimental, and drawn in the distinctive style of the authors, this story will find an audience for those looking for narratives about generational legacies."

Leo and Dianne Dillon's memorable Caldecott Award winners are Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears: A West African Tale and Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions (Picture Puffin Books).

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