Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Together


Together
Written and Illustrated by Jane Simmons

Ages : 3-6

I like simple books. Simple stories. Simple characters. Simple illustrations. Simple words. And a simple world. All of which I found in Together, authored and illustrated by Jane Simmons. A story of two little dogs, Mousse and Nut, who come together in friendship. They meet for the first time, on a rainy rainy day. Mousse is out in the rain getting wet. And Nut is snug and dry beneath a red umbrella. Mousse comes over to say hello. Nut says hello too. They smile at each other. And then the sun comes out, radiant and bright. Wonderful!...they both say.

Mousse and Nut quickly become friends. They have sooo... much in common, and enjoy doing things together. They walk together. They sit together. They play and giggle together. Everything is just wonderful and simple.

So what's the story? Well, the story begins with the 'but'. There is always a but, isn't there?

One day, Nut jumps on top of a wall. But Mousse can't jump that high. Later, Mousse paddles in the water. But Nut cannot swim. Mousse wants to stand in the shade under the tree. Nut prefers the warmth of the open sun. Nut trots too fast. Mousse is too slow. One's bone is too big. The other's biscuit is too small. One's house is too muddy. The other's is too tiny.

And on and on...until their differences become so huge that it creates a chasm. And this is the point at which dark clouds gather outside, threatening a huge downpour. Mousse and Nut both feel they are not best friends anymore. Everything was horrible. It starts to rain when they part ways.

Mousse now swims alone, walks alone and chews on his bone alone.

Nut sits in the rain alone, under his red umbrella.

They both go home and lay down inside their little sheds, looking forlorn and miserable.

It is still raining when Mousse goes to find Nut. They want to be friends with each other again. And when they smile at each other, the rain stops and the sun beams down on them just as before. Wonderful day! ...they both agree.

And from then on, they do everything together. The things they liked to do together, and also the things they did differently. And whether it was sunshine or rain, every day was wonderful. Because they were together.

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I loved the illustrations in the book. As I said earlier, simple and beautiful. And the most striking thing about it was the pages in which Mousse and Nut meet for the first time, and where they reunite again after their little tiff. The depiction is the same. Heavy rains. Mousse getting wet. Nut under his adorable red umbrella. I loved how, by painting the exact same picture, the author/illustrator was able to weave the past with the present, and also create a sentimentality for that moment of togetherness.

Also, the pages which show Mousse and Nut sitting in their respective sheds feeling sad. There is nothing else on that page, except the dog shed. No sky, stars, sun, clouds, trees, pastures. Nothing. Just one shed on one page. Another shed on the adjacent page. And a dog inside each. Past friends. Presently sad. And this isolated drawing just drives home the point of how lonely they are. So much so, that it ends up making you feel lonely too.

Even after googling online, I couldn't find a personal webpage for the author to link to. But on one page, she makes a little statement that made me laugh out loud and makes it so quote worthy. She says...

"It’s a funny thing, the very thing that got me into lots of trouble as a child has become my living as an adult. Creativity is a strange beast, sometimes a curse, sometimes a blessing, and I have no idea where it comes from, but it has stuck with me from the day I was born. Now I write and illustrate children’s books, which helps keep the beast happy, as long as it’s fed, it’s content, which in turn keeps me out of trouble."

In all, this is a delightful tale about the ups and downs of friendship. And about two adorable characters who learn to celebrate their commonalities as well as their differences. Winkie really enjoyed this story, especially when he related himself to one of the characters and his school friend to the other. And in such a personalised setting, I was able to sow the seeds....that while friendship is a lot of hard work, it is well worth the effort!

6 comments:

Sheela said...

enjoyed this review tharini - what a simple way to explain friendship and all that goes with it...

just curious - does the book rely predominantly on words or pictures? (or are they equally stated and complementary)?

(i enjoyed flyaway katie and so did Ana as each page had a simple illustration that went well with the simple words and the story and was wondering if this book projects the same simplicity...)

Tharini said...

Oh yes Sheela. Words and pictures are equally matched. I think Ana might like this very much.

DotMom said...

sounds like a great book... what is the recommended age?

Praba said...

Beautifully written about the importance of sowing the seeds of friendship early on, and the related hardwork that go with it - through this wonderful pick...Thanks, T!

Amazing to see how Winkie is transitioning into enjoying books that deal with friendship and other deeper topics - very different from your old picks.. Can't wait to see more!:-)

Tharini said...

Dotmom : I updated the post with the age recos too.

Praba : Thanks. And thanks for noticing that Akhil's taste is transitioning. A keen eye, is what you've got! :)

sagari said...

nice post enjoyed reading

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