Summertime is about adventure. These two wonderful picture books are all about reaching out to embrace new experiences.
In “Chisel A Grey Stone” (2020, Gatekeeper Press, written and illustrated by Michael Roughton, ages 4-8), we meet Chisella Graystoan, who is all cooped up. This tiny girl who lives in a tiny room in a tiny village looks up at the giant mountains surrounding her village and gets an idea.
“I will take my hammer and chisel THERE! I may be small, but I have BIG IDEAS! After all, I am an ARTIST!” The stunning, bright illustrations show Chisella, determined, as she heads off into the mountains. With her tools, she knocks the giant stones down to her size and creates gargoyles. “There. Now the rock face has FACES!” she declares. And due to her great imagination, they turn “from stone into skin and bone!”
What follows is pure joy as Chisella carves an artistic playground and the lively, expressive paintings bring together scenes reminiscent of the wild rumpus in the classic book, “Where the Wild Things Are.”
Chisella doesn’t let two mean gargoyles stop the adventure. “I know you two,” she tells them. “I made you both out of the hardest, coldest stone of all. Don’t be such MEAN ONES. You can both join in the fun!” With that, she reaches out to touch them, “and their cold hearts turned warm.”
Finally, it’s time to go home and say sad goodbyes. However, as she walks back to her tiny village, to her tiny room, she knows there’s no need for sorrow. “All you have to do is wait,” Chisella says. “I’ll be back soon … How about TOMORROW?”
This luminescent tale of adventure is all about following your artistic soul.
In “All In A Day,” (2009, Abrams Books for Young Readers, written by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Nikki McClure, ages 3-8), we learn how “A day is a perfect piece of time to live a life, to plant a seed, to watch the sun go by.”
In gentle, lyrical rhyme, the text starts us early, “beneath a brand-new sky,” as cut paper illustrations in a simple palate of black, white, light teal and yellow follow our child character’s work on a farm.
We see how “A day brings hope” (a plant growing) and kindness (the boy is helping to feed a hen), and as we read on, the simple text brings in layers of depth. “You can make a wish, and start again.”
“A day can change just everything, given half a chance. Rain could show up at your door and teach you how to dance.”
Following the daytime through until “evening comes whispering” while the past sails off to sea, we read that a day is all you get to keep. It will soon be over.
“So live it well,” it ends, “make it count, fill it up with you. The day’s all yours, it’s waiting now … See what you can do.”
I hope in whichever way you choose that you’ve been enjoying each of the summer’s days, with its explorations, adventures and hopes.