Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Drop of Water

Image Source: Houghton Mifflin
Author/Illustrator: Gordon Morrison

Ages: 4 to 8
Publisher: Houghon Mifflin

Gordon Morrison writes an index of definitions at the end of the book, including one for the word child and one for the word water. A Drop of Water starts when a child ( "a young human animal.... curious, smart and likes to play") meets water ("a colorless, tasteless, transparent liquid.....a drink without equal"). A drop of water leaves his fingertips and A Drop of Water begins.

The book reads like a worship of the element Water. With lively water color illustrations and subtle text, Morrison shows us the qualities that make this life giving element "a drink without equal".

Water is nature's example of reuse and recycle. It is formless, but defines landscapes. Taking cue from that, Morrison takes us along on a gentle flight across some landscapes sculpted by water, where we look at sights and some of the sights look back at us. Like the moose that looks up from its drink at a "tea-colored" bog. Time stands still. We zoom out from the child meeting water and our questions about the child, where he is, what water body is he playing with are all answered, while we make a cyclical journey around the neighboring region ending right back where we start. Recycling, just like water.

While transparent in appearance, water touches our senses in layers. Often we hear it before we see it. In Morrison's illustrations we hear the splash as water tumbles down cliffs, we see the breeze in the slant of drizzles. We feel their thirst being quenched as Holstein cows bury their noses in a farmer's pond.

Where it lacks color itself, water colors the landscape. Morrison symbolizes this by selectively coloring his sketches. Pretty much everything is left in grey, except water itself. In a shade of gentle blue, calming in some places, bubbling in others, reflecting back the landscape, water is the center of attention. So are all the life forms that touch water, that are touched by water.

This technique of partial color draws our eyes to the plants and wildlife that water sustains, while the text describes their action. From the graceful and silent pitcher plants, to the flycatcher deftly catching a fly in midair, we learn about ecosystems thriving around water - the lively beaver pond, the mysterious lowland swamp, the shallow meadow marsh.

Remember that drop of water that left the child's fingertips? It brings us right back to where we started, in a splash!


Tharini said...

Beautiful! Dreamy and beautiful. I am intrigued by the partial coloring method you have described, and its a shame my lib. doesn't have it yet.

Loved what you said about water touching our senses in layers. How true.

Meera Sriram said...

I'm curious about the selective coloring too...nice pick A!

Vibha said...

Partial colouring does sound very innovative. Great review.

ranjani.sathish said...

Anusha, enjoyed reading your review and love the whole idea of this book ! Would love to pick this book for the kids.

Choxbox said...

Nice pick K's Mom.

Choxbox said...

Available on Flipkart btw.

Anusha said...

Thank you, all, a lone drop of water by itself is so beautiful and complex and the book captures that beauty in words, look forward to your thoughts when you've had the chance to read the book.

utbtkids said...

"Water is nature's example of reuse and recycle. It is formless, but defines landscapes. "

Anusha, you are such an artist with words. Hugs to you woman and thanks for such a captivatibg review!

sandhya said...

You had me at the cover picture of the book. Also loved the apt definitions of 'child' and 'water'.

"It is formless, but defines landscapes." Took me back to the splendour of the Grand Canyon, seen more than 15 yrs ago, in all seasons and all times of the day, with the Colorado gushing along at the bottom, even now shaping its surrounding. A powerful element indeed.

Praba Ram said...

Slurped down to the last drop...err, word! A fan of your fluid writing and flow of thoughts! :) Thanks for a fabulous pick!

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