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:
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.