cover image And So It Goes

And So It Goes

Paloma Valdivia, trans. from the Spanish by Susan Ouriou. Groundwood (PGW, dist.), $17.95 (36p) ISBN 978-1-55498-869-3

Chilean artist Valdivia (Up Above and Down Below) forms humans and animals with simple geometric shapes, gives them rag-doll features and bits of texture, and colors them with bright red, turquoise, pink, and peach. The figures look childlike, but they grapple with profound questions. In Ouriou’s able translation, Valdivia starts midthought: “Some have already left. The neighbor’s cat, Aunt Margarita, the fish in yesterday’s soup.” It takes a second or two to realize that she’s talking about death. “Others will arrive. Some were longed for, others come out of the blue.” She discusses grief (“Those of us here weep tears for those who leave”) and observes that we know nothing about the why of existence: “Those of us here are just here. And so we’d best enjoy ourselves.” The vision of life as a temporary and puzzling phenomenon may unsettle those who hold traditional beliefs. But for families comfortable with the idea that nothing transcends what we can know as humans—“It’s a mystery where they come from and where they’re headed”—Valdivia offers a bold and surprisingly lighthearted view of existence. Ages 4–7. (Aug.)