cover image Before, Now

Before, Now

Daniel Salmieri. Rocky Pond, $19.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-5934-6197-6

Employing a quiet, unadorned narrative voice and softly burnished colored pencil illustrations, Salmieri (High Five) muses about how life is made up of paradoxes and opposites. “In a dark sky floats a blue planet,” the book begins, showing a swirling Earth against a starless expanse. Somewhere on that planet is a child: “a small person in a big chair” who eats “squishy oatmeal in a hard bowl.” Each page turn moves the maturing primary character, portrayed with black hair and tan skin, and always shown in a green shirt, further on in time. In closely observed, tableau-like spreads, the figure, whose “small head” has “vivid dreams of vast spaces,” becomes a school-age child, then a diligent college student and a scientist, then a doting parent (“squishy oatmeal in a hard bowl” appears for another child) and, eventually, a grandparent holding “an old photo in a new frame/... of a small person in a big chair.” This intergenerational portrait slowly suggests the way moments can provide anchors and recur—it’s a “whoa” kind of idea pitched at just the right level for the target audience. Illustrations portray people of varying skin tones within the family and across metropolitan scenes. Ages 4–7. Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (June)