How do you know you love someone?
I love making connections between books and life. A good friend and fellow Teacher-Librarian gave me this book a long while ago. I finally sat down to read it today. Meanwhile I had been reading and researching versions of Snow White for one of my classes this week.
The class celebrated Roald Dahl day last week and had enjoyed reading the famous book Revolting Rhymes. As a part of this unit the teacher took the time to read a few versions of the traditional fairy tales including Snow White. She mentioned one edition had worked especially well because the retelling included beautiful language and descriptions. I mentioned my favourite Snow White version Snow White in New York. On Friday this class and I explored this intelligent and inventive retelling.
In The Big Question the shy elephant raises the question "How do you know you love someone?" at the annual meeting which is usually chaired by Turtle but this year his wife is ill so Ant has taken over. Ant is impatient and dismissive but elephant gathers her courage and asks her important question.
Everyone has something to say using personal examples including Snow White (hence my connection) who responds :
"When I kiss my prince," said Snow White, "I forget all my troubles: wicked stepmothers, quarrels, sour apples ... Don't ask me why. That's what love does to you, I think."
Mouse "I felt as big and strong as an elephant."
Clouds "We always float in the same direction."
Apple "When I see my love, I start to blush."
Grandma "I pick out a beautiful poem. Then I read it in our favourite spot."
Child "I write my own poems and slip them into his pocket..." (illustration here on the left)
Stars "We don't need words ... We can be silent together for a thousand years."
We are not told how elephant feels about all the answers she receives but as the meeting closes she rushes away - I hope into the arms of her true love. Meanwhile the grumbling Ant drops the meeting notes off for Turtle and then she rushes off to her carrying work "unable to understand why she suddenly felt so alone."
Here is another connection. Recently a young bride asked for advice about a picture book to read at her wedding. She had intended to use Dr Seuss Oh, the places you'll go but then it appeared as part of a television commercial and the magic was lost. I hunted around and asked a few people and settled on Guess how much I love you by Sam McBratney. If only I had read The Big Question this would be a completely perfect book to share at a wedding. Yes I am a tragic romantic.
You can read an interview with the illustrator here and a detailed review here.
This book comes from the publisher Book Island. They certainly have an eye for wonderful titles such as The Lion and the Bird - a truly special book. We do have another book illustrated by Kaatje Vermeire in our library - Maia and what matters. This was also a gift from my colleague.