Happy New Year and welcome to another year of What We’re Reading- the bookshelves have started to groan under the weight of some lovely new Christmas presents and the library is bound to have restocked over the holidays too. It’s time to set sail on another adventure of beautiful pictures, words to chew on or wrap your tongue around and always always lovely stories to spellbind and intrigue.
And we’re starting with a book that I contemplated saving until next Christmas, but then decided it was too good to share and I couldn’t wait that long, because what we are reading, and also staring out the window with our noses pressed up to the glass desperately hoping for, is Snow.
Carolina Rabei has taken Walter de la Mare’s wonderfully evocative poem and set it to her beautiful illustrations, and the result is just magical, capturing the feeling of deep peacefulness that falls with the first soft fat flakes, the excitement of watching it build and knowing that soon there will be snowballs and snowmen and snow angels and everything white and beautiful, and through it all a robin flitting from branch to branch, a splash of colour in a newly monochrome world.
No breath of wind,
No gleam of sun –
Still the white snow
Whirls softly down
Twig and bough
And blade and thorn
All in an icy
Through the air
On still and stone,
Roof, – everywhere,
It heaps its powdery
Of every tree
A mountain makes;
‘Til pale and faint
At shut of day
Stoops from the West
One wint’ry ray,
And, feathered in fire
Where ghosts the moon,
A robin shrills
His lonely tune.
I know poetry like art is ver subjective and what I love might be utterly boring to anyone else, but given Walter de la Mare’s popularity, I rather suspect that I’m not alone in wanting to read it again and again and again, just letting the imagery flood through my mind.
And as for Kitty and Elma and Pip, I don’t know whether this is considered to be one of Walter de la Mare’s works specifically aimed at children, and my guess would be that it isn’t, but I don’t think that matters. I think there’s something rather lovely in being exposed to some poetry before you’re old enough to sit down and dissect it or be forced to do so in an educational environment (there are some poems that for me have never recovered from my English A-level). It gives you the time to just let the poem be, to let it sit with you and trickle into your mind wherever it most resonates, and then to discover it again with fond familiarity as an adult. I would read this poem to my little ones if it came printed on a tea towel but happily for them and for me, there are illustrations galore, some matching the text and some pages just pictures, building up the story in the loveliest way.
It was only published last year, and I really hope it’s the start of things to come and a whole heap of beautiful poems illustrated for children (that’s a hint Faber & Faber).
It’s a bedtime book, or a twilight book, a book for reading curled up in the last light of the day, snug under quilts, when you crave calm and togetherness and possibly the last of the chocolate out of the Christmas selection box, as you dream of waking up to a white wonderland outside.
And for a little extra festive sparkle, Faber & Faber published a short animated trailer to launch Snow;
Now tell me you aren’t secretly hoping to wake up to a white out tomorrow morning!
What We’re Reading is a weekly link up of posts about children’s books. That’s about as far as the ‘rules’ go; it can be picture books, baby books, books for older children or even young adult if you like; just come and join us to tell us what you’ve been reading recently. The linky is always open for a week so there’s plenty of time to join in, or if you’d rather join in on Instagram or Twitter that would be wonderful too, just use the hashtag #whatweread and tag me (@cariemay on Instagram and @cariemaymakes on Twitter) and then we can all come and say hi.
So without further ado, come and tell me what we’re going to want to be reading next!