Welcome to the first post in the Playing Card Project, a year-long series for 2015 through which we’ll build a deck of playing cards, one Tuesday at a time. We’ve established four suit-based themes and will investigate each theme in terms of how it is expressed in 13 different books for children and teens. 52 weeks, 52 cards, 52 books. Get it?
Our suit themes are as follows:
♣ Clubs – stories of belonging
♦ Diamonds – stories of strength
♥ Hearts – stories of affection
♠ Spades – stories of growth
And, yes, we will produce a physical deck of cards at year’s end, to be distributed widely, and free of charge, to anyone who is a friend of the Butler Center (so now would be a good time to start following this blog, btw).
I think things will make sense as we go, so let’s get to it!
For our first entry, the Ace of Clubs, I present
by Debby Slier
Starbright Books, 2012
This book is so full of charms it is hard to know where to begin, so I’ll begin with the babies. Each board page features a different baby ensconced on a cradle board, with a single word describing the baby’s disposition (peeking, crying, yawning, etc.). Individual babies represent different Native American tribes, with a color-coded key in the back (the background color on the baby page matches a decorative frame on the key page) to identify each nation. We know how much babies like looking at other babies (they LOVE it) and a board book built around that fascination is well-conceived. Add to that the exquisite photography, the easily manipulable trim-size, and the especially appropriate dispositional content, and this makes for a winning baby book.
We consider it here, though, not for its infantile excellence but because of its powerful message of belonging. On the surface, we see each individual baby, with specific dress and cradle board construction, as belonging to his or her nation. But in their universally recognizable circumstances and expressions we see that the babies belong to one another, too. And they belong to us, and we to them. Indeed, this is a book that proclaims our universal belonging, in the simple juxtaposition of eleven beautiful babies whose distinct identities serve, mostly, to demonstrate their community, and invite us right in.
One down, 51 to go. See you next Tuesday.