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Once Upon a Memory Hardcover – December 3, 2013
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This poetic ode to memory begins when a feather flutters through an open window into a little boy’s room. As the boy picks up the feather, the text asks, “Does a feather remember it once was . . . a bird?” On the right-hand side of the page, kids will see a barbershop for birds, with feathers on the floor. This construction continues throughout, as unrelated objects are presented in terms of their origin: “Does a chair remember it was once . . . a tree?” and “Does a garden remember it was once . . . a pea?” Most of these constructions will require explanation, some more than others. For instance, “Does love remember it once was . . . new?” somewhat confusingly depicts a little boy and an old lady on a bench on the left-hand side of the page and two songbirds courting on the right. Still, the text has a lyrical quality, and Liwska (The Quiet Book, 2010) uses white space effectively, and her animal characters, as always, are soft and inviting. Contemplative and poignant. Preschool-Grade 1. --Ann Kelley
Praise for Once Upon a Memory:
"[A] gentle, dreamy picture book...A lyrical series of questions that play with the concept of memory and origins...[are] grounded by Liwska's pencil and mixed-media drawings."―School Library Journal
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Top customer reviews
Overall, this book is not just about the profoundness that a giant tree came from a tiny seed.... but also for other profound things we overlook like books, chairs, and feathers.
Simple rhymes lilt softly on the ear, enhance the dreamy mood and encourage young readers to explore beyond the obvious into their own personal experiences. Colored font highlights key words and further spotlights the connection between the item in its current state back through time to a former state. For example,
“Does a feather remember it once was …
Each page offers a chance to delve deeper into the questions and discuss how change occurs in people, places and things. One could simply enjoy this wonderful chance to ride the magic carpet of imagination and fantasy. Or one could use it as a path to some simple STEM activities—science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
#AAQ Lens: For adopted children this book can offer a path to conversations about their past. For example, the final pairing, “Will you remember you once were … a child?” could naturally evolve into discussing their thoughts about their life story before they were adopted. Older children might wish to express any what if thoughts about how their lives might have been different had they never been adopted, or if they’d been adopted by other parents.
(Many adult adoptees say they had these thoughts but felt afraid or unwelcome to share these somewhat scary and unsettling thoughts with their adoptive families because they did not want to hurt their adoptive parents and/or seem disloyal.}
Parents can nudge children towards a conversation like this through indirect questions like, “Some kids (note the absence of reference to adoption,) wonder how events in their lives might be different, for example, if they didn’t have their family pet…” Kids can then decide if they want to make the conversation real personal or keep it general.
Sharing a book like Once upon a Memory, reassures a child that his thoughts are safe to share and allows parents to comfort and reassure their child with unconditional love and acceptance. While it can be awkward to have such Difficult Conversations, it is important to do so. And to offer the possibility on a regular basis.
We never want to force a child to talk but it is essential that we sincerely convey are willingness to do so as well as our ability to be strong enough to hear our children’s thoughts. Don’t mistake a child’s resistance as disinterest. (And please do not breathe an audible sigh of relief when they decline to talk about adoption “stuff”. Parent and child both need courage, empathy, and compassion.) Use your best adoption-attuned intuition to identify what is behind their reluctance. They may simply need more convincing that our invitation is genuine or may not be ready at that moment. Children are interested–and probably a bit wary and uncomfortable–but they still benefit from such conversations. __Gayle H. Swift, "ABC, Adoption & Me: A Multicultural Picture Book"