cover image From a Distance

From a Distance

Julie Gold. Dutton Books, $17.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-45872-2

Folk art and folk music join in two-part harmony in this attractive picture book adaptation of song lyrics, made famous on recordings by Nanci Griffith and Bette Midler. The words convey a utopian vision of a world where people can live in peace, concentrating on their similarities rather than their differences: ""From a distance/ You look like my friend/ Even though we are at war."" Reminding readers that ""God is watching us from a distance,"" Gold also urges adherence to a common morality. Ray (The Story of Christmas) makes the most of Gold's ideas of near and far perspective, creating intricate, creamy-hued paintings that are more conceptual than her previous works and tell a distinct story of their own. With each turn of the page, the scenes become increasingly focused and detailed--an effect akin to working a camera's zoom lens. Beginning at a lush, yet universal mountaintop community, Ray homes in on a particular village, depicting families in strife as soldiers and refugees march through the streets and military helicopters whir overhead; two girls pictured together in a window become the aforementioned friends who view each other ""from a distance."" When army tanks roll away from the bombed village, its residents find the strength to rebuild, and the friends are reunited. An appreciation by singer-musician Griffith concludes this uplifting, elegantly designed volume. All ages. (Oct.)