Is Was (Deborah Freedman)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Is Was by Deborah Freedman, a gorgeous meditation on impermanence and the quiet, overwhelming beauty of nature.

The sky that was blue and the sky that now falls with rain are one and the same. Just as that rain created puddles for little animals to sip; just as the soft whispering song of the wind has now become the buzz of a bumblebee in flight. Just as, in the silence of nature, we can hear the earth’s heart beat, in time with a child swinging back and forth on their swing. Just as the day fades to night, skies become orange, then purple-pink, then the deepest blue and filled with stars – the same stars we all see and share.

Absolutely beautiful. Freedman has a wonderful talent for creating sweeping, compelling narratives that center around finding beauty in the world around us (her books This House, Once and Shy are still favorites of ours), and this peaceful, enchanting title is another wonderful example of it. Weaving together simple, rich artwork that practically bursts with sunshine, with sparse yet effective text (which itself combines soft prose and an utterly flawless use of onomatopoeia), the story explores the themes of nature’s quiet beauty, and how the cycles of nature are essential to that beauty, perfectly. On its own, this is a lovely subject for any little bookworm; and yet, with the author’s dedication (“for you/and everyone you’ve loved/who is/or was”) as context, it can also be a beautiful way to explore grief, loss, and renewal in our personal lives as well. The length is perfect for a storytime or bedtime book, and JJ and I both loved it. Stunning, timeless, and Baby Bookworm approved.

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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