Author/Illustrator: Shelley Rotner
Publisher: Holiday House (2019)
I realize as I write about "social distance" that I have neglected this blog somewhat. Not really knowing who reads it anyway, I've found it difficult to remain motivated. However, in this world where I miss people's faces, the smiling faces on the book "Hello Summer!" by Shelley Rotner really called out to me. Maybe you have some of these faces in your home - the little smileys that make your heart happy even as a raging pandemic changes life as we know it. There are sadly no such little faces in my home anymore - only faces far away as my grown up children get on with their lives and any adult jobs they can get.
I love a good photography book, and one filled with faces is a great start. When I lived in the USA I was the band photographer, and it was always the faces that interest me most. What are the brains behind the faces thinking? What makes them tick? What are their goals for today? How will the faces look and where will they be in 2030 or 2050? I type those numbers and they don't even seem like a year, but soon enough it will be 2030 or 2050. How will a book like this age?
Now to the actual book itself. I love the photos, a mixture of faces, nature and other summer-related things. Books like this are often very America centric and my eyes will inevitably find the cultural references first. This is just because I have lived my life in three cultural contexts - Australia, Japan, and the USA, so it makes my heart happy when a book can be applied to any of them, giving only hints to its origin. The use of multicultural faces in this book pleases me greatly and I can see kids you might find in any International School in the world, doing things that kids all over the world do. Swimming in bodies of water, eating cold things, discovering nature; this book does a good job depicting a summer that many kids will know.
I also like the literally cool colors of the font, and the occasional warm color for warm words. I like that some words are larger than others, although the ESL teacher in me kind of wishes there was some kind of grammatical scheme in which words - verbs, nouns, adjectives would be given the special treatment.
While I do like the diversity in the book, I'll admit I would have preferred a bit more cultural content to give the sense that there are similarities and differences in summer when you look with a worldwide lens. I realize it's not going to always be possible for a photographer to travel to different countries to take pictures, but how awesome would it have been to casually include a Japanese fireworks festival, or see an elephant in the background of one of the photos?
Overall this book makes me feel cooler, and happier when I read it, and in a hot / sad / tired 2020 world, that's all I need today.