of art that sets the tone for all of the subsequent art.”
— Julie Paschkis’ opening illustration from George Shannon’s
Who Put the Cookies in the Cookie Jar?
What a week. (Caveat: That is not a hyperlink to launch and bring into your life if you are offended by rampant cursing.)
Here is part of what Camille Guthrie wrote at the Poetry Foundation’s web site about this unforgettable week we’ve had here in the U.S.:
“This week I want to believe Elaine Scarry, who argues that Beauty is a compact, or contract, between the beautiful being and its perceiver: ‘As the beautiful being confers on the perceiver the gift of life, so the perceiver confers on the beautiful being the gift of life.’ This week in which a marathon was bombed, senators refused to pass a commonsensical gun law, a plant exploded on a small town, a week in which beauty feels irrelevant and the gift of life feels utterly vulnerable.”
And in this poem, Wislawa Szymborska captures what went through my mind when I saw the bombing footage on television.
Now, more than ever, do we need to gather and list some kicks and look for some beauty, for crying out loud. To be clear, it’s always good to find the slivers of sunlight, even in happier times, and let us also not forget those people overseas who experience on a daily basis the violence Boston experienced this week. (See here.)
But, well. Yes. This week. Wow.
And I feel like George Shannon’s Who Put the Cookies in the Cookie Jar? (Henry Holt, March 2013), illustrated by Julie Paschkis (who is visiting this morning), is just the fitting, life-affirming picture book to feature today. As Julie has already written about it—here, which I highly recommend reading—“I was drawn to the underlying meaning of the book: that every person’s contributions matter. As George put it, the book is an ode to the widest sense of community. … George’s text shows the joy that comes through doing work and being part of something bigger than yourself.”
Many of you may recognize the popular sing-along for children, “Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar?” In this picture book, George Shannon gives the song a twist, showing how a community of people work together to feed a community (in this case, cookies … mmm, THE PRECIOUS cookies): “Hands that clothe and feed them all. Heal and teach. Large and small. Hands that help the hands that help are what the world’s about …”
“One hand in the cookie jar takes a cookie out,” the book opens. That’s the illustration you see opening this post. “How many hands put the cookie in is what the world’s about.” Shannon goes on to show a family baking the cookies; workers making cookie sheets and oven mitts; farmers milking cows, churning butter, and plowing fields; people grinding wheat; and much, much more. Paschkis takes us all over the world with her vibrant, truly multicultural, folk-art illustrations, laid out in white space, each piece of her paintings bordered, as you can see below, in thick pastel blue lines. They almost look like paper dolls in spots, and the action is close to the reader (almost as if we could reach out and join in the preparations), the illustrations vibrant and warm.
As the Horn Book review notes, this book “provides a thought-provoking and positive global concept of product development that can be explored on a variety of levels.” But, as Paschkis notes below, it’s about more than that — and about more than cookies.
Let’s get right to Julie’s notes and art. Incidentally, you’ll see her mention WIP art below. The Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote about this one, “Paschkis’s…mural-like spreads, with their warm colors and characters who exemplify a rock-solid work ethic and optimistic outlook, bring to mind a WPA aesthetic, with a little Lois Lenski and Virginia Lee Burton for good measure.” I love those comparisons. It’s true, though Julie’s work, I think, always retains her very singular Julie-vibe.
Here she is, and I thank her for visiting.
Julie: The last piece of art that I do is always the cover.
I love the way that the text celebrates community and interconnectedness. I didn’t see it as a literal description of cookie-making. (Plowing and milking probably aren’t done by hand anymore.) But the fact that many people work together to make ANYTHING happen couldn’t be more true. Here are a couple of sketches and spreads.
The truck driver in this is modeled on my mother, and the dog is my dog, Lily.
I noticed that in WPA art the workers often have defined and beautiful butts, so I did that, too.
I ended the illustrations with a party. This isn’t in the text, but the whole book felt like a celebration, so it seemed like a natural thing to include.
In the final, the cow got a cookie, too. Everyone needs cookies.
WHO PUT THE COOKIES IN THE COOKIE JAR? Copyright © 2013 by George Shannon. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Julie Paschkis. Published by Henry Holt, New York. All images here reproduced with permission of Julie Paschkis.
Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.
1) Julie Paschkis’ art is (as Adrienne Furness would say) one of my Best Things Ever.
2) Beautiful, thoughtful surprises in the mail.
3) I couldn’t wait for Villagers’ new CD so ordered it from the UK. It is most excellent, particularly moment 1:28 in the song “Passing a Message,” where the piano and bass kick in heavy.
5) A great new song from Patty Griffin, with a little assist from Robert Plant:
7) The resilience of the human spirit. No less.
What are YOUR kicks this week?