OUR SARA IS WINNING HEARTS
If you’ve walked past the Kidsbooks store on West Broadway lately, you may have noticed a window displaying multiple copies of a picture book with a robin’s egg blue cover and Sara O’Leary’s name on it.
The Sun’s literary columnist is the author of When You Were Small (Simply Read Books, 32 pages, $19.95), a sweet new book for preschoolers. In the story a little boy named Henry delights in saying to his dad, "Tell me about when I was small." His father obliges, producing a number of fanciful Tom Thumb scenarios, such as "[w]e used you as a chess piece" and "you wore a thimble for a hat."
Vancouver illustrator Julie Morstad shows how Henry pictures each of these imaginary scenes from his past. Her artwork is delicate and gentle, using crosshatching to great effect. O’Leary is the mother of two sons. There’s a tenderness in the way she shows here how even the littlest people like to contemplate how much they’ve grown and how far they’ve come. So while young readers will doubtless get lost in Morstad’s pictures of Henry the Lilliputian, their parents will tend to muse about the evanescence of childhood - something that books like Robert Munsch’s Love You Forever also make you do.
The book’s publisher - Simply Read books of Vancouver - believes in outstanding graphic design and quality production. Hence the illustrated endpapers, sturdy binding and heavy paper. O’Leary says, "They’ve done such a beautiful job ... that even if they only printed one copy, I could carry it around all my life and die happy."
Phyllis Simon, co-owner of Kidsbooks, says the store’s staff and customers find the style, "both the writing and the illustration, very, very appealing .... It’s got a familiarity about it, but it’s still original." Both parents and school libraries are buying it.
(Rebecca Wigod is my editor for the weekly column Galley Slave. She is a fine editor and a terribly sweet person, and I don’t just say so because she is nice to me. But I do appreciate it. And it was very good of her to give a nod to Dimiter Savoff and the care he lavishes on his books at Simply Read. The reason I chose him to publish this book was that as a reviewer myself, I know that his books are simply some of the most beautiful children’s books on the market. SOL)