Wednesday, June 13

The Perfect Day

by Remy Charlip
Greenwillow Press 2007

In very quiet rhymes Remy sets the scene.

Rising sun
Time to wake
Day has begun

The sun is rising in the on the mountain while the night is still nestled in the valley. We move from the large to the small as a child and parent sit at breakfast and plot out their day. In luminous watercolor they move to a hike, gaze at the clouds, have lunch with friends, sing and play, sit under a quiet tree and take a nap.

The day moves on, the simple rhymes gently drifting like a breeze across the pages. They return home, paint pictures of their day, "read from picture books and think"...

And I stop cold. First, Charlip is suggesting that parents and children not only read picture books but that they think about them. Without disturbing the flow of the book he has included a very careful suggestion that picture books not just be read but considered, pondered, discussed. Then I look at the picture carefully and notice dozens of books open on the floor, all miniature watercolor spreads from Charlip's many books.

I so want to be wrong about this, but it feels like Remy Charlip is taking inventory and saying his good-byes.

I continue on. Tomorrow is another day, tomorrow we can laugh and play. I feel uneasy. The child is nestled into bed, the window above the bed filled with the mountain and valley from the beginning, the sun on the other side now signaling the end of the day, a passage into the night.

Mountain Valley Setting sun Time to sleep Night has begun

Remy Charlip finished this book before suffering his stroke in October of 2005 and as of a year ago was still undergoing physical therapy, the note above his work desk where the proofs for this book lay reading "Go slow. Do less." My hope is that it's coincidental he included his published history strewn on the floor of a painting for his latest book -- an inside joke -- and that he'll continue to perform his dances of quiet whimsy in picture book form.

In ruminating over the summary of this back back in January on his birthday I doubted the book was as simple as it's description:

A parent and child spend a perfect day together, from sunrise to nightfall.

Now, of course, I want to believe it is just that simple.

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