The Wonder

The Wonder by Faye Hanson. Templar, 2015.

We found this book on our first trip to the library in 2016. And it is beautiful.

A day or two after reading it, I handed it to Mr. B. "Check it out. It's a book about [Little Sis]."  Little Sis is our artist, you know. Our daydreamer. [I'm letting her share her art and toy photos on Instagram now, by the way.]

This is the story of a boy who wonders about things. He wonders, and his wandering mind gets him into trouble.

He wonders where the birds are flying to, and is reprimanded by the park keeper for almost stepping on the grass. Over the park keeper's shoulder is a burst of color.

He wonders who makes the clouds, and almost bumps into another bus passenger. He wonders what the crossing guard's signs tastes like, imagining it a fancy, swirly lollipop. He wonders what the best playground in the world might be like.

Faye Hanson renders the real world is soft sepia tones, while the boy's imaginative musings are seen in vivid color.

Things change when the boy gets to art class. He doesn't know what to draw. "Just use your imagination," says the art teacher.

So he does.

These photos I took? Tiny bits of spectacular double-page spreads. Seriously, the art in this book is simply gorgeous. You could stare at it for hours, picking up all the details.

As you can imagine, the boy's art is a success. "What an incredible imagination you have."

"Which of course is true, because this is a boy whose head is filled with wonder. Enough to share with everyone."

The book closes with one more two-page spread, a glimpse into the boy's future as an artist.

The Wonder is a beautiful book, and was recently nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal. [THe longlist won't be announced until February.] Faye Hanson is based in the U.K., and has a couple of novelty books to her credit, She also illustrated a couple of books by Michael Morpurgo that are not available in the United States. She has another picture book slated to be published this year. I hope it makes it to this side of the pond!


Changing topic for a moment:

Speaking of awards, the ALA Youth Media Awards were announced Monday. I posted my reaction on Facebook, but here's a bit more. This year's Caldecott Medal went to Sophie Blackall for her work on Finding Winnie, the second of two books [see Winnie, here] about Winnie the Bear published last year. We read the first book together, and my daughters read Finding Winnie, which they liked very much. When the girls got out of school, I told them Finding Winnie won the medal. I expected them to be excited, because Sophie Blackall is a big favorite in this house (Ivy + Bean 4eva!!!), but Big Sis just said, "Oh." When I rattled off the list of honored titles, there was a big cheer when I said, "Last Stop on Market Street." In fact, it was the book the girls and I were rooting for the most. Of all the new picture books we read last year, it stayed with us the longest. When I hunted for my review of it on the blog, I was shocked to see we read it last February! It still felt so fresh in our minds. So I told the girls about the Newbery Awards, and how I somehow failed to most of the honored titles. "But the winner is special in a couple of categories, guys. The first Medal win for a Latino author, and the second picture book to ever win!" [We own A Visit to William Blake's Inn, which was also a Newbery Medalist and Caldecott honoree, but its poems are still better suited to slightly older children, despite its picture book format.] 

"The Newbery went to Matt de la Peña for Last Stop on Market Street!"

The girls were very happy to hear it. I agree, the story resonated with us as much as Christian Robinson's great illustrations. I've read a lot of grumbling about a picture book winning, but I think it's about time that a picture book is recognized for its literary merit. You know, Big Sis is ten years old, I'm in my late 30s, and Little Sis is eight, and we still read picture books regularly. A good story is a good story, and this one in particular had something to say.

We were also extremely happy to see the love shown for our beloved Jerry Pinkney. He received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award (a kind of lifetime achievement award) and the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement! 

Congrats to all the honorees! I found a great many books I need to check out. There are always so many more greats than there are awards, and I'm grateful to all the bloggers and websites that debated over the year. So many suggestions!

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