Posts Tagged ‘loss’

“A year ago
I began to notice
that my sight was slipping away.
I sat at home alone
and felt the darkness settle around me.
But today I walked outside
into the thin gray rain
and made my way to the subway.
I have a journey to go on.
There are some things
I need to find.”

With those words, a blind girl descends into the subway in search of the color she has lost.

I know.A blind child in a subway sounds like the setting for a thriller—not a picture book.But author Jimmy Liao’s subway is a friendly, and delightfully imaginative place.It whisks our young heroine off to fly over city rooftops, pick apples with elephants and sunbathe from the back of a whale.

This is a “grown-up” picture book that I worry will languish on the shelf between Eloise in Paris and The Itsy Bitsy Spider.I’m hoping that Itsy Bitsy will take the hint from a relative and spin a web here exclaiming, “Some Book!”

I’m not saying it won’t appeal to children.They will love the whimsical illustrations and find new quirks every time they look at them.The train’s passengers are frequently wearing funny noses, outrageous hats or animal costumes.At one stop, the platform is paved with yellow brick and a lion and several tin men are riding the train.

At another station, the platform is submerged and the train is swimming with fish, eels and passengers in scuba gear.

When the blind girl (she has no name) exits the train at the underwater stop, she swims with dolphins and does a little sunbathing.With her shoes off and her hat and backpack resting behind her, she soaks up the sun, surrounded by a still, blue ocean.At first she appears to be on a tiny island, but she’s actually lying on the broad head of a whale who is mostly submerged.Below the surface, you can see his gaping mouth and a beady eye.

“I’ve forgotten how blue the sky can be,” the girl says,
“But in my mind I still
watch the clouds change shape.”

While there is nothing inappropriate for children, the lyrical text will sail over the heads of youngsters.Teens and adults, however, will find it full of tenderness and hope as the girl searches for “a juicy red apple/or a single golden leaf.”

“A little boy asks me
how to get home.
‘I’m looking too,’ I tell him.
Home is the place
where everything I’ve lost
is waiting patiently
for me
to find my way back.”

This would be a perfect book for read-aloud and discussion among middle-school or high-school students.I’d also give it to someone struggling with a loss.

Author Jimmy Liao is a native of Taipei, Taiwan and a cancer survivor.He has written many books that have been translated into English.The Sound of Colors has been adapted into a stage play and a motion picture.

The lovely English text is adapted by Sarah L. Thompson.

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