Picture Book Reviews: Before Morning & First Snow
Review: Before Morning by Joyce Sidman, illus. Beth Krommes
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Raincoast Books. Thank you!
Publication: October 4, 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
There are planes to fly and buses to catch, but a child uses the power of words, in the form of an invocation, to persuade fate to bring her family a snow day – a day slow and unhurried enough to spend at home together.
In a spare text that reads as pure song and illustrations of astonishingly beautiful scratchboard art, Sidman and Krommes remind us that sometimes, if spoken from the heart, wishes really can come true.
“Let the air turn to feathers,
the earth turn to sugar,
and all that is heavy
That quiet, resonant hush- perhaps even a shiver- that comes with reading something so beautiful that it makes your heart sing? I had that feeling throughout my reading/study of Joyce Sidman and Beth Krommes’ sublime picture book Before Morning.
In an author’s note at the very back of the book, Newbery Honor winner Joyce Sidman writes that Before Morning is “written in the form of an invocation– a poem that invites something to happen…”. Like the expectant pause before an orchestra conductor begins, Before Morning opens with a few wordless pages of Caldecott medalist Beth Krommes’ stunning artwork before the poetry begins. A story centering around a child’s wish for snow transforms into a most beautiful, profound tale about wishes, love, and togetherness. The combination of Joyce Sidman’s poetry and Beth Krommes’ unique scratchboard art is superb- deeply affecting, heartwarming and truly something magical. Before Morning is a read perfect for the wintertime, of course, but also a read worth savouring at any time of the year.
Look out. Now look up. From the sky one flake falls, then another. And just like that-it’s snowing.
In this beautiful book from debut creator Bomi Park, a young girl wakes up to the year’s first snowy day. From her initial glimpse out the window to her poignant adventures-rolling a snowman, making snow angels-the girl’s quiet quests are ones all young readers will recognize. Simple, muted text and exquisite, evocative art conjure the excitement of a day spent exploring the wonder of snow-and the magic that, sometimes literally, such a day brings. As subtly joyful as a snow day itself, this book will find its home in the hearts of young adventurers everywhere.
do you hear something?”
With these few engaging words, readers are taken into author and illustrator Bomi Park’s lovely picture book debut First Snow. I have a soft spot for wintry picture books and have read a fair number of them- but it never ceases to delight when something new, surprising and fantastical about the winter season crosses my path.
Beginning with a young child waking up to their first snow, we follow along the soft, lush, predominately black and white illustrations as the young child’s play with snow grows and grows to a whimsical and unexpected finale. Bomi Park has crafted an unusual and dreamlike narrative in First Snow: starting with something as unassuming as a child’s quiet, quiet pad into a snowy yard turns into a fantasy-filled wander, ending with a snow and snowman-filled world with red-hatted and red-scarfed adorned children. A little leap of curiosity and imagination is needed here, but do take that leap- Bomi Park’s work is truly enchanting. Any readers who love the understated and dreamy elegance of picture books by authors and illustrators such as Komako Sakai, Sara O’Leary, Sydney Smith, Kyo Maclear, or Giselle Potter might especially delight in First Snow.
I received copies of these titles courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions and comments are my own.