Blankets of Blossoms Before Breakfast

h1 January 21st, 2020 by jules

“Some friends are more than friends. They grow like twin cherries from the same stem. Just like Dina and Adin, who knew what the other one was thinking,
even without talking.”

(Click to enlarge illustration)


Want to read about a picture book import this morning? Cherry Blossom and Paper Planes (Floris) is from Belgian author Jef Aerts and is illustrated by Dutch artist Sanne te Loo. Originally published in Dutch in 2017, it’s on shelves here in the U.S. this month.

Adin and Dina, best friends with names that are anagrams of one another, are so closed that (as you can read above) they “knew what the other one was thinking, even without talking.” They live on the same farm — Dina, at the top of the hill, and Adin, at the bottom. They help on the farm and love to plant cherry pits all throughout the nearby village.

One day, Adin tells Dina that he and his mother will be moving — next week, no less. After their departure, Dina has a long, hard summer without him — even though she has Corey, Adin’s crow he leaves behind for her, by her side. Adin is lonely too and throws cherry pits form the balcony of his new apartment home; he is high up on the tenth floor. When Dina visits one day, things are awkward at first. But soon, Adin is showing her how he places cherry pits between the wings of paper airplanes and throws them high into the air above the city. “The pits fell like autumn leaves around the city.” As a result, the two friends witness a happy surprise, come spring.

This lyrical, sensitive tale of two friends surviving a test to their friendship is framed by Aerts’s overriding metaphor — that these friends are “like twin cherries from the same stem.” Sanne te Loo’s gouache and pen art is lush (particularly, the cherry tree spreads) and softly colored — but with beautiful pops of rich pinks and blues. Here are some illustrations so that the art can do the talking . ….


“Dina and Adin’s special game was planting cherry pits in the village. In cracks and crevices, between paving stones, on the green beside the café, and the road outside the bakery. ‘The juiciest cherries will grow here one day,’ said Dina, smiling.
And when Dina smiled, Adin’s eyes smiled with her.”

(Click to enlarge illustration)


“One afternoon, Dina and Adin lay on the grass looking up at the cherry-tree sky. ‘Mama wants a different job,’ said Adin, ‘in the city.’ Dina held her breath, then asked, ‘Couldn’t she do a different job here?’ Adin said, ‘We’ve moving next week.’ ‘Will you ever come back?’ asked Dina. ‘Mama says leaving is like coming back,’ sighed Adin, ‘just the other way round.’ Dina shrugged her shoulders. ‘I hate the other way round.'”
(Click to enlarge illustration)


“Dina’s summer felt long and lonely without Adin to play with. Corey slept outside Dina’s bedroom, on the windowsill. He cawed happily when she woke up, and flew alongside her when she cycled to school. But even that didn’t make Dina feel better.”
(Click to enlarge illustration)


“They went up in an elevator to the tenth floor. Adin was waiting outside on the balcony, wearing smart clothes, with his hair neatly combed. He looked different from the Adin Dina knew, the boy with cherry-juice cheeks. ‘Hi,’ he said. ‘Hi,’ Dina said back. For a moment, they forgot everything they had been waiting so long to tell each other.”
(Click to enlarge illustration)


“Then Adin said, ‘Watch this!’ He folded a sheet of paper into a plane and wedged a few cherry pits between the wings. He threw the plane into the air. It floated high above the rooftops, swooping up and down on the breeze. The pits fell like autumn leaves around the city. Dina and Adin turned to each other and smiled.”
(Click to enlarge illustration)


“All winter long, high up in his apartment, Adin folded paper gliders, jumbo jets and stunt planes. When the wind was right, he launched them away from the fountain across the road, away from the busy shopping streets, towards Dina. And along the way,
the pits drilled little holes in the snow, like tiny footprints.”

(Click to enlarge illustration)


“At long last, the smell of spring arrived, fresh and green. Dina filled her lungs with it. … Dina climbed to the top of a cherry tree, much higher than she usually dared, until she could see the city’s smoke rising in the soft spring sky.”
(Click to enlarge illustration)


“… the cherry trees started to bloom. Buds swelled until they burst into blossom. A carpet of flowers rolled out over the land, from Dina’s orchards, past villages and farms, to the outskirts of the city. Through busy shopping streets, past squares and fountains,
right up to the doorstep of Adin’s building.”

(Click to enlarge illustration)


“‘Mama, come and see!’ shouted Adin. ‘Well, would you look at that,’ she said, smiling as she saw the blanket of blossom below. ‘It’s a trail,’ said Adin. ‘And it leads from
here to …’ But Adin’s mother knew exactly where it led. She picked up the keys to their new car, and said, ‘A trail is meant to be followed … don’t you think?'”

(Click to enlarge illustration)


* * * * * * *

CHERRY BLOSSOM AND PAPER PLANES. Text © 2017 Jef Aerts. Illustrations © 2017 Sanne te Loo. First published in Dutch as Kersenhemel by Em Querido’s Uitgeverij in 2017. English version © 2019 Floris Books. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher.

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