Book Review: Once Upon a Memory
Once Upon a Memory by Nina Laden and Renata Liwska (ill.) December 2013. 9780316208161. Gr. Ps-2
I made my 2013 Top Ten list in the middle of December, and I posted it with confidence that I’d seen enough of the year’s releases for kids that my list was set. But since for me a list of favorites is an ever-shifting document, I already have another 2013 title to add. I happened to get Once Upon a Memory by Nina Laden from the library the weekend after my Top Ten list posted, and I knew right away that it would have found a place in that post had I come across it in time.
The book begins with a question that will spark readers’ imaginations: “Does a feather remember it was once a bird?” The questions that follow look for connections between the past and the future that are sometimes serious, sometimes fanciful or playful. Ultimately, the idea is that things change, what you are today isn’t necessarily what you will be in the future. Change isn’t easy for kids (or adults, for that matter), but just maybe the poetic text and muted colors in this book will soothe our hearts during the transitions we all face as we grow up and life takes us on into our futures.
Once Upon a Memory is a book that invites thoughtful conversation between parent and a young child or it may serve as contemplative writing assignment for an older child. Nina Laden shares the book’s origins on her web site, “It started on a beach walk when I found an eagle feather and wondered, ‘does a feather remember it once was a bird?’ The poem took off, literally, and I explored connections, transformations and memories.”
I suppose it’s not a surprise that I would love this book as much as I do. I admitted my weakness for quiet, meditative picture books like How To by Julie Morstad and If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano, and Once Upon a Memory certainly falls into a similar category as those two lovely books. I recommend it highly for those looking to create a feeling of reflection or explore life’s changes in a gentle way.