Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Little Island

The Little Island
Golden MacDonald
(aka Margaret Wise Brown)
illustrations by Leonard Weisgard
Doubleday & Company, 1946

The Little Island is to me a story about having faith and believing in things you can not see. When a little kitten comes to this perfect place, she can't believe it is really and truly a part of the big, big world until a fish convinces her that it is all one land under the sea. Animal life abounds here as this tale of peace, nature, tranquility and the changing of the seasons unfolds. Perhaps it is most beautiful in its simplicity. A great bedtime story for my son, it sets a nice calming tone in a world that often doesn't take the time to stop and smell the flowers.

There was a little Island in the ocean.
Around it the winds blew
And the birds flew
And the tides rose and fell on the shore.
Clouds passed over it
Fish swam around it
And the fog came in from the sea
and hid the little Island
in a soft wet shadow.

The imagery goes on like this...

The morning was very quiet
on the Island
with only the spiders sailing their webs
against a gentle wind.

I apologise for being so MWB-ccentric, but if you love vintage children's books, she is hard to ween away from! I recently read Weisgard's acceptance speech on winning the Caldecott Medal for this book, and it is stunning.

"Everything is fast and fleeting around the little island; the sea is never still, the clouds fly quickly into different shapes, the colors change from sunlight to mistlight, the trees are moving and the birds are always flying and screaming. This active little island was too elusive for me to catch in its own time. It was easier to put as much of it as I could wherever it is you store such things, take it home to Connecticut, and remember it all in my own time.

And after all this I don't believe I could really tell you of illustrating or bookmaking, certainly not of the poetry of living and dying, nor of little children.

You already know it. You know it in your own lives, you know it in what is written, in what you see and hear and feel and with children all around you."

If you have a few minutes check out the speech in full here.

Also by:
The Quiet Noisy Book
On Christmas Eve
Christmas in the Barn
The Dead Bird
Little Chicken
Wait Til the Moon Is Full
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Treasures to See
The Big Book of Nursery Tales
The Friendly Book
Sir Kevin of Devon
Cynthia and the Unicorn
The Mouse and the Lion

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