August 6, 2017


Cynthia Rylant and Brendan Wenzel's recent collaboration Life is a moving meditation on finding inner strength in the face of ongoing adversity.

Life tells the story of just that: life. The book discusses the wonderful parts and the less than wonderful parts, the good times and the times of struggle. Readers see the world through the eyes of the animals that live in it, like elephants, whales, monkeys, and polar bears, and the book itself becomes almost a mantra for readers, reminding them that life is to be lived and oftentimes struggles must be overcome. 

I have to say, I kept hoping that the cover would glow in the dark (no need to try, it doesn't), but apart from that the book has a lovely design. The painted illustrations swirl around each page, carrying readers through each spread. The juxtaposition of the text and the illustrations is fascinating, with words like "life begins small" set against an image of just an elephant foot as though the elephant is too large to depict in such a small book. Wenzel is careful to use white borders around many of the images, as though each spread is its own little world within the larger world, ie the book itself. It's a nice touch and a reminder that, though everyone's worlds might feel disparate, they're all a part of the same larger world.

Life published in June from Beach Lane Books.

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