Today I am feeling short and sweet. And summery too, of course. So although I have mentioned this book here many, many times; I feel the need to devote a review post just to its precious pages. If you are a faithful reader of this blog and you are tired of hearing about this gem, move along for today (but come back Friday for a new post!). If however, you long to dote a little more on this favorite, then stick around for a small but beautiful book. Combining a delightful old poem with sweet, painted illustrations – this book is what childhood summer should feel like. Here is The Swing by Robert Louis Stevenson, illustrated by Julie Morstad, 2012.
I readily admit that our family has this board book memorized. (And please don’t pass over it because it is only in board book form. This book is for all ages!) It is a favorite even of the dad and the child and we admire its pages often. Beginning with the question, “How do you like to go up in a swing, …?” Morstad gives life to Stevenson’s simple lines about the wonder of swinging.
From tire swings near picnics to swinging in the garden, the text and images join forces to describe the fullness of the world that can be seen while rocking in the air on a swing.
While Robert Louis Stevenson is very familiar to any who frequent children’s books, I particularly love this poem because of its curiosity, description, and the tender lilt of the phrases. It is a poem that you can read with feeling and relive that impression of swaying up and down.
Canadian illustrator Julie Morstad is a wonder with her colorful palettes, strong brush strokes, and charming compositions. I adore the textured backgrounds to this art – especially behind the text pages; and the children’s features, outfits and surrounding landscapes are beautifully formed. There is a simplicity to the illustrations in the details left out, that gives way to the many colors and details that are included.
Swinging is one of those magical things as a child where time seems to move at your pace and it is easier to imagine fantastical adventures. The world changes with every leg pump and you feel empowered to go faster, higher and even leap into the sky off of the swing. It is an activity that truly belongs to childhood (that is if you are like me and have experienced the very depressing realization that your body despises swings as you age). I love Morstad’s world in The Swing that includes both boy and girls, multiple races, varying landscapes, and the openness of swinging alone or with a friend.
So dear reader friends, how do you like to go up in a swing?