cover image Everyone


Christopher Silas Neal. Candlewick, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-7683-4

In previous books like Over and Under the Snow, Neal rendered the natural world in tranquil, silkscreen-like spreads. Here he uses loose black lines and a stripped-down palette of blue and peach to explore the power of human emotion. The book’s writing—it’s Neal’s first outing as an author—is simple, honest, and lyrical. A boy with a scribble of black hair wrestles with waves of feeling: “Sometimes, you just need to cry, and that’s OK,” writes Neal as the boy’s tears become birds that fly into gray skies. “When you cry, you are not alone,” he continues as raindrops join the boy’s tears. Then, as the boy’s mood lifts, flowers bloom around him. “When you laugh,” Neal writes, “happiness grows.” The good feelings spread as a final image shows creatures, plants, and even clouds hugging each other. No explanations are offered for the boy’s shifting feelings; instead, Neal concentrates on the way emotions draw humans into relationship with the world around them. The rough artwork seems like a step backward from the polish and repose of Neal’s earlier work, but the writing holds promise. Ages 4–6. Agent: Stephen Barr, Writers House. (May)