The bustling city. New York City. I adore it. The architecture, the diversity, the speeding vehicles all work together in unison weaving lives into a medley of city-song. So when I opened the pages to Before Morning by Joyce Sidman and Beth Krommes, I marveled at its distinctive style in creating a world unknown to many young readers. The pictures are a detailed combination of scratch-board and watercolor illustrating the daily life of city-living. Robust with layers and details, the pictures depict mood with ease. You can literally feel the city. Without words, the story begins with a mother and child returning from a walk in late autumn. They scurry home through the park and race past, yet long for, the bakery. They can't stop! There are buses to catch and planes to fly!
When they return home, the child's morose eyes glance at her mom's uniform hat. A reminder that mom has to leave for work soon (mom is a pilot). The next scene shows the child sitting on her bed, hiding the hat behind her back while mom patiently sits near. Clearly, the child has a wish. A wish for her mom to stay home.
When night falls, the words begin. An enchantment of words. The story is written in the form of an invocation-a poem that invites something to happen. I like to think of it as a prayer, meant to be spoken aloud. It all begins in the deep woolen dark. Clouds gather and heavy flakes fall as the child slumbers, snug in her bed (Amelia Earhart book on her bedside table-Love It!). Dad is asleep too. Mom folds a load of laundry before she's off to catch the bus to the airport. Meanwhile, the sky fills with flurry and flight and the earth turns to sugar. Mom and her co-pilot view the planes buried in a blanket of white from the airport window. A too busy world falls silent. Mom is able to catch a ride home with a plow-truck driver and greets the child with embracing arms. A child's wish comes true and the family frolics in the freedom and peace that snow brings.
This book is such a delight. When I read it aloud, the kids were mesmerized. The illustrations and the spell-binding words are a perfect marriage, entrancing readers young and old. This is a book that pours into the heart and fills it with warm hope. Hope for your own wishes and dreams to come true. Now all you have to do is find the right words. . .and speak them aloud.
Before Morning is on sale locally at Leana's Book's and More.