gaining perspective

1 November 2007

This journal is about books that inform and inspire me. I often find it in an inviting story or a cogent argument — in words. I didn’t expect to find it in pictures.

I’ve read most of the books in our daughter’s library tens of times. Only a few interest me after the first. But I’m probably on the one hundred and eleventh reading of Each Peach Pear Plum. It hasn’t always been in heavy rotation as it is now, but it was one of her first books, and years before she was born I read it frequently to another child in my care.

The text is simple. The plot is minimal. The characters are undeveloped. So why do I so like this book? The illustrations are captivating.

The book’s first illustration is a landscape — a few hills, two houses, a stream, a wheat field, an orchard. Every subsequent page is illustrated. On one leaf is a vignette, on the other, a scene. The scene is from a perspective within that first landscape. The landscape maps the world of the story, and the scene is a pinpoint on the map.

The illustrator gets the perspective just right. What you see from every window or hilltop or bridge is what you would expect to see based on the relationship of locations in the landscape.

My daughter is interested in the book’s rhyme and rhythm, and in the repetition of its reading. I’m fascinated by a setting so carefully crafted that it could be a real place.

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