h1 November 24th, 2009 by jules

“Por la música de mi tío y su guitarra, que convierte a nuestros perros en cantantes aulladores, gracias. / For the music of my uncle and his guitar that turns our dogs into howling singers, thanks.”

I’ll probably be offline the rest of the week, as I assume many others will, to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends and family. (If I’m inspired by poetry, I’ll show up Friday. Otherwise, I’ll see everyone on Sunday.) I wanted to leave you this week with some art from the picture book Gracias / Thanks by Pat Mora and illustrated by John Parra (Lee Low, October 2009) — all in the spirit of thanks-giving.

In this lovely little poem of a picture book, written in both Spanish and English, a young boy simply celebrates the things for which he is thankful — the simple kicks, if you will, such as “the sun that wakes me up so I don’t sleep for years and years and grow a long white beard,” “the ladybug that landed on my finger, a little red flying surprise,” “my friend Billy, who showed me the book about a boy giant who puts his little parents on top of a tall tree when they misbehave,” “my little brother, who threw mashed peas at my sister and made me laugh so hard that I fell off my chair,” and more.

Parra’s illustrations are rich, acrylic on illustration board in sprawling, colorful spreads that leap off the page and complement well the joy and cheer that emanate from Mora’s text. (And wow, check out the art at his site.) Below are some more spreads to celebrate this time of year, in which we get conscious about our kicks.

I’ll add my own gratitude to the boy’s, and feel free to add yours: I’m grateful for my husband, the best person I know, who always, always believes in me and knows I can do it, even when I think I can’t; my girls, in whom I truly delight; our good health; the sunshine; the food on my table; the roof over my head; my brother and his guitar and how he shaped me into who I am today for the twenty-nine years he was on this earth; my brother, Steve; the sound of bells and the sound of rain; what art brings to my life; the great idea my husband had yesterday; naps; that first cup of coffee in the morning; a good, twisted joke, the kind that makes you do a spit-take; good music and good drumming and the sound of the piano; authors and illustrators who create stories for us to enjoy; the kind, sharp-witted, obscenely smart friends I’ve made from blogging; Eisha, the kind, sharp-witted, obscenely smart friend I’ve had for almost twenty years now. Oh and her capacity for creative-cursing. And, oh good heavens, I could go on and on. Someone, shut me up now.

And, before I sign off with some more of Parra’s beautiful art, I’ll add my usual Thanksgiving …well, blessing, I guess it is, to all. (I think I’ve said this for the past two years, so I guess I’ll make it a tradition.) These are the words of Thoreau, writing to H.G.O. Blake, once a Unitarian minister, in December of 1856:

“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. It is surprising how contented one can be with nothing definite — only a sense of existence. My breath is sweet to me. O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.

If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance, like flowers and sweet-scented herbs — is more elastic, starry, and immortal — that is your success.”

Now go and eat — like Harold — nine kinds of pie that you like best. And let’s see what else the boy is grateful for:

“Por los gusanos que atrajeron al gran pez que tiró de mi hilo de pescare, gracias. / For the worms that brought the big fish to tug on my line, thanks.”

“Por el grillo escondido que nos canta una serenata antes de dormir, ¡gracias! / For the cricket hiding when he serenades us to sleep, thanks!

* * * * * * *

GRACIAS / THANKS. Text copyright © 2009 by Pat Mora. Illustrations copyright © 2009 by John Parra. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Lee & Low, New York, NY.

21 comments to “Gracias”

  1. At the risk of sounding like The Golden Girls theme song:
    Thank you for being a friend.


    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

  2. (…oh, now she’s done it. That song’s going to be in my head all day.)

    a.) I love Spanish/English books. Makes me feel like I can read in Spanish, thus I feel smart;
    b.) I love Thanksgiving books that don’t feel wintry. All that rich color says High Summer Celebration, which means I can have Thanksgiving in July. And, possibly, nine kinds of pie then as well.
    c.) You really are a pal and a confidant. And if I threw a party…

  3. Thank you for the joy today.

  4. You are truly a friend if you’re giving me permission to eat nine types of pie!! Wowza!

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  5. Great minds think alike again. I was going to review this book this week too! The art is simply gorgeous. It’s a beautiful title to share year round. Happy Thanksgiving!!

  6. Lovely post. Thanks for reminding me how sweet my life is. I only need one kind of pie – gluten free cherry. Yum. I am so so thankful for this blog and your friendship!

  7. Happy Thanksgiving, Jules!!! * hugs *

  8. Jules, I am grateful for you and your friendship, and for all of the wonderful people here at 7-imp. Thank you for posting such a heartfelt reminder of how blessed we all are.

    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

  9. Thank you for a lovely book recommendation and an unbelievably fine Thoreau quotation. (How come I haven’t seen that before? Is the godlet of spotty reading habits that determined to embarrass me?) “Not possession but enjoyment”: amen to that.

    Enjoy the holiday break, everyone!

  10. Jules, I’m thankful to you for always reminding me to celebrate the good things in life. (And usually doing it with gorgeous illustrations to boot.) Hope you and your family (and everyone else who stops by here) have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  11. Happy Thanksgiving, Jules and Eisha. Enjoy your holiday!

  12. I am grateful for you, Jules, and the community here at 7-Imp. I do love Thanksgiving; you all have a good one.

  13. What a wonderful, lovely book–perfect for thanksgiving–and I adored the Thoreau excerpt, too. Jules, very thankful for you and Eisha, too, and all of my very dear blogging friends. You all feel so naturally like long-lost pals, and it’s really a privilege for someone kinda nervous and shy IRL, like me, to feel like I’ve found “my crew”!

  14. As someone who grew up and continues to love art and illustration I am thankful for your kind words and appreciation of my work.
    Best wishes and Happy Thanksgiving.
    John Parra

  15. When I read this book I thought, “Wow, what a simple, profound, sweet, beautiful work of art!
    Thank you, Pat Mor and John Parra

  16. What a lovely-looking book, and a lovely post. And you, Jules, are the most lovely of all friends. Especially when you are cursing the paint off the walls. Thank you.

  17. Jules,

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones!Not much time for blogging this week myself as I’m hosting the big feast. Lots of work to get done by Thursday.

    See you back here on Sunday. I’ll have to write two weeks worth of kicks then. I was away at NCTE in Philly for a few days–and have been fighting a sinus infection for weeks. I’m just about ready for bed…hope to hove renewed energy for tomorrow.

  18. Thank you for your friendship, Jules. And thanks to Little Willow, JES, Jeremy, Elaine, Adrienne, Eisha, Tanita, Jone, Emmaco, Aquafortis, Vivian, Andromeda/Clouds Come and EVERYONE ELSE who shows up here, week after week, to cheer us all on. You are great.

  19. Thanks, you all, and happy Thanksgiving again!

    John Parra, thanks for stopping by! You should stop by again some time and let me feature more of your beautiful art.

  20. Waaaay belated, but we do what we can — and none the less heartfelt:

    Thank you for this lovely site, the lovely authors and illustrators you introduce us to, and the lovely people you attract as a result. And, needless to say, thank you, o gods, most of all thank you for the lovely hostess(es).

  21. […] Gracias / Thanks (2009), written by Pat Mora, Lee & Low Books […]

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