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ONCE UPON A MEMORY
Written by Nina Laden, illustrated by Renata Liwska
ISBN# 978-0316208161 (Hardcover)
Ages 3-6 (and up)
Published by Little, Brown & Company December 2013
Does a feather remember it once was a bird?
Does a book remember it once was a word?
When a feather drifts through a child's window, a magical journey begins. As the boy follows the feather, he is swept away to a world filled with adorable animals, where fantasy and reality come together in surprising and playful ways. From the cake that once was grain to the ocean that once was rain, whimsical "before" and "after" scenes offer readers a peek at the world as seen through the eyes of a curious child, ultimately asking the question, "What will you remember?"
Nina Laden's poetic and cleverly woven text is perfectly paired with bestselling artist Renata Liwska's captivating illustrations. Together they create a story that will keep readers enchanted long after the journey has ended.
"A rhythmic poem explores origins, both physical and abstract.
A boy sits in his room, serving tea to his stuffed animals, when a feather wafts in on the breeze. It prompts a string of wonderings, each with its own spread and paired by rhyme. "Does a feather remember it once was... / ...a bird? // Does a book remember it once was... / ...a word?" Every left-hand page shows a small scene of the boy with the named item (the feather; a book). The corresponding right-hand page shows a larger scene that's related to the small one (an owl at the barber's, feathers falling; animals patronizing a bookstore); these are softly round-edged. Many animals in the larger scenes are the child's toys come to life. Laden's impeccable cadence wanders into nature ("Does a cake remember it once was... / ...grain? // Does an ocean remember it once was... / ...rain?") and some gentle, child-friendly philosophy ("Does an island remember it once was... / ...unknown?"). One origin's too narrow-not all families "once [were] two," nor are all parental sets heterosexual, like the male and female mallard depicted. Liwska fans will recognize her carefully detailed sketches and their fine, soft crosshatchings and shadings. Colors are grays and browns with muted red, green and blue highlights; animal characters are tender and genuine. These musings on memory and change are thought-provoking, yet the piece also works as a lullaby.
Reflective and peaceful."
-Kirkus Starred Review