cover image Once Upon a Memory

Once Upon a Memory

Nina Laden, illus. by Renata Liwska. Little, Brown, $17 (40p) ISBN 978-0-316-20816-1

In a quiet poem, Laden (Romeow and Drooliet) guides thinking about the way a cake might “remember” being a field of grain or an ocean might recall its source in raindrops. Her philosophical verse names objects and their origins: “Does a chair remember it once was... a tree?/ Does a garden remember it once was... a pea?” Readers who grasp the link between a statue and a stone may be perplexed by a line about romance: “Does love remember it once was... new?” Liwska (The Quiet Book) pictures two childless birds courting; the next scene, of ducks building a nest (“Does a family remember it once was... two?”), will make more sense, at least for children in mom-and-dad homes. The artist’s typically delicate pencil sketches alternate between images of an inquisitive child and imagined scenes of animals at work and at play, underscoring the book’s meditative, contemplative quality. Laden’s closing question—“Will you remember you once were... a child?”—makes the exercise all the more personal, inviting readers to consider who they might become. Ages 3–6. Author’s agent: Laura Rennert, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. (Dec.)