cover image Dear Little One

Dear Little One

Nina Laden, illus. by Melissa Castrillon. S&S/Wiseman, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5344-5477-4

Curling tendrils, swirling forms, and lush colors by Castrillon (Nano: The Spectacular Science of the Very (Very) Small) give this book a look that grabs attention. The artist’s landscapes accompany a benediction by Laden (You Are a Beautiful Beginning), whose rhyming lines, spoken to a child, contemplate a life lived among the wonders of the natural world: “Watch plants grow./ Start them from seeds.// Be enchanted by ferns./ Examine the weeds.” Giant ferns tower over a child with blue skin, dark curls, and a red jacket who’s followed everywhere by a white dog. Masses of foliage hang from trees with misty blue trunks as the child and a pup dig treasures (“worms and stones... ancient fossils... long-buried bones”). Later, they offer an apple to an enormous moose, then set off to sea in a small boat under which kelp swirls and lavender waves curl. At night, the duo sit by a campfire and watch the night sky with a companionable fox: “Marvel at the stars,/ and the vastness of space./ You are a sparkling part/ of this beautiful place.” Laden’s affirmations are universal in this picture book; Castrillon’s artwork grounds them in a unique vision. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Laura Rennert, Andrea Brown Literary. (Nov.)