I have been a fan of Scott Magoon's illustrations for several years now and I was excited by the title of his newest book, Breathe, and especially by the fact that he is both author and illustrator. When I finally had the book in my hands I had to take a moment to breathe myself. Breathe has to be the loveliest, most peaceful, beautiful, quiet book I have read in quite a while. It is also a bit of a change in illustration style for Magoon, which is exciting. Breathe introduces a more painterly style that blends wonderfully with the setting of Breathe and his playful characters.
What I love most about Breathe, beyond the enchanting illustrations of the crisp Arctic landscape and the captivating baby beluga whale (a nod to Raffi and his Baby Beluga here, a sweet song and picture book that all three of my kids and I enjoyed) is the fact that the very act of reading this book automatically causes us to notice our own breath and maybe take deeper breaths and slow down and relax and be in the moment. If you are really lucky, this is a moment with some little person you love in your lap or a roomful of little people you are thrilled to be entertaining by reading out loud to. As someone who once was able to make time to meditate (now I just make excuses) I embrace anything in my day that invites me to slow down. And, not only does Breathe encourage us to slow down, the story itself, told as much through the illustrations as the text, is one of connection, safety and love and joy.
Breathe begins, "Breathe, little whale!" A smiling baby beluga, supported by her or his mother, spouts water near the surface of the ocean. The pages that follow encourage the whale to "play all day"and "swim, swim, swim." And breathe. And explore. And sing. This little whale has an immense playground to roam around and Magoon does a wonderful job of encompassing it in the pages of a picture book. The scenario changes, from the dark depths to the snowy shores, with the reminder to breathe, mama beluga always nearby, baby beluga always with a grin.
Magoon ends this playful day and his endearing book with the illustration seen below, the penultimate page of Breathe, which reads, "Most of all, love and be loved." I'm not sure what these words will mean to the three-year-old in your lap, but the illustration will definitely speak to her or him. And for us, the adults reading Breathe, it's nice to be reminded of this - to love and be loved - and also to breathe. Thank you, Scott Magoon, for these reminders, and thank you especially for Breathe.
Books illustrated by Scott Magoon with links to my reviews:
Big Mean Mike by Michelle Knudsen
If Waffles Were Like Boys by Charice Mericle Harper
Spoon by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and the follow-up, Chopsticks.
Books written and illustrated by Scott Magoon:
Books by Kara La Reau, illustrated by Scott Magoon:
More books illustrated by Scott Magoon!!
Source: Review Copy