Once Upon a Memory

illus. by Renata Liwska. 40p. Little, Brown. Dec. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-316-20816-1. LC 2012043086.
K-Gr 2—In this gentle, dreamy picture book, a little boy explores the world around him-past, present, and future-through everyday objects. The text is a lyrical series of questions that play with the concept of memory and origins: "Does a feather remember it once was… a bird?/Does a book remember it once was… a word?" Laden's somewhat esoteric prose is grounded by Liwska's pencil and mixed-media drawings that depict cherubic, round-faced woodland creatures getting haircuts, shopping at independent bookstores, and playing at the beach. Each question sparks an idea, while the illustrations extend the musings into multiple vingettelike stories. A child could breeze quickly through to the end or spend an hour contemplating each spread. Some of the questions may prove too lofty for some young children, though, even with visual prompts. For example, "Does love remember it once was… new?" is accompanied by two images in juxtaposition: an old woman sitting on a park bench with the narrator and a songbird serenading his lady love. A sweet book, if limited in appeal.—Kiera Parrott, Darien Library, CT

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