Sunday, April 29, 2012

Born and Bred in the Great Depression

Picture book
Open the cover of Born and Bred in the Great Depression and
you'll see black and white photographs labelled and dated. They are
of author Jonah Winter's father and his family in the 1930s. They are
the stars of the story. Winter took the stories he probably grew up
hearing and made them into a narrative that provides a portrait not
only of a loving, resilient family, but of a pivotal point in our
nation's history.
In an unusually poignant second person narration, a boy is
talking to his grown up father. He reflects on the stories he's been
told about his dad's depression era childhood. Sometimes he asks the
"did you really" questions a child would ask. The words are set in
free form poetry and perfectly complimented by Kimberly Bulcken Root's
muted pallette.
The love of the son for his father and the gentle and whimsical
details of the pictures give a sense of dignity, joy, and hope that
would be missing in a more detached treatment. The dad as boy is
clearly proud to help his father operate a pump (no indoor plumbing)
while his sister is happily absorbed in washing a doll. He is
thrilled to play checkers with his dad and listen to him play banjo.
And the family always stands ready to help others who have less.
If there ever was perfect timing in a book's publication--this
is it. Many read-to-me age children are in hard times and bombarded
by media bad news. Sharing this book with a loving parent can help a
child articulate his own fears and concerns and maybe gain hope that
(to paraphrase Winter) the storm of hard days can give way to "the
blue skies of better days."
On a personal note, I'm very happy to have my outside swing set up.
It's a perfect place to read or knit and listen to the Veazie Symphony
Orchastra (my wind chime collection).
A great big shout out goes out to my parents and all the other
outstanding men and women who experienced the Great Depression and
came out of it with a determination to give their own children a
better life.
Julia Emily Hathaway

Sent from my iPod

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