cover image From Here to There

From Here to There

Margery Cuyler. Henry Holt & Company, $17.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-3191-1

Pak (Benito's Dream Bottle) endows Cuyler's (The Biggest, Best Snowman) brief text with stellar dimensions in this heartfelt picture book. As the narrative begins, ""My name is Maria Mendoza,"" the artist cleverly interprets the words as the beginning of a letter Maria composes at a desk to an unseen recipient. Over the course of the next 13 gorgeously rendered full-bleed spreads, young Maria describes her family (""I live with my father, my mother, my baby brother Tony...""), her street address, town, county, state, etc., finally concluding with ""in the universe and beyond."" Like a photographer, Pak shifts the perspective: as Maria mentions her family, the illustration reveals an intimate kitchen scene in which her father prepares vegetables and her mother reads a book to the baby (Maria is just visible through an open door); similar details of the girl's town and state unfold in succeeding spreads (bluebonnets, an armadillo, oil rigs and more dot a drawing of Texas). While Maria's address ends in the vastness of space, the book itself does not. Instead, Pak brings readers full circle to a closing view of Maria at her window, gazing out at a world that seems both expansive and enveloping. ""From here to there,"" the text quietly affirms, ""my name is Maria Mendoza."" The artist's warmly rendered domestic scenes bring to mind contemporary Latin American art. As the geographic scale of the artwork widens, the compositions become simpler and bolder, culminating with a stunning panorama of space. This enlightening journey is both a meditation on humanity's small place in the universe and a celebration of each person's immutable individuality. Ages 4-7. (Apr.)