Sometimes there are books that appeal to the teacher in me, or the mom in me, or the historian, or poet . . . But rarely do I find a book that wins the whole of my heart. Thomas Locker has a way of stunning me on all fronts.
Every page in a Thomas Locker book is a work of art. His landscapes are worthy of being framed–and many are in prestigious museums. I am slowly buying all of his books for our personal collection. Home: A Journey through America (amazon affiliate link) celebrates the beauty of the different places across America that we call home. The various places we call home have a way of shaping our identity and impressing themselves onto our hearts.
As Locker puts it in his introduction, “Home is more than just the place we return to after being away. Home is something that becomes part of us as we live in it.”
The Nebraska prairie is home to me with its grasses smelling sweet in the summer heat and its tall green cornfields with golden husks stretching for miles around weathered farm houses. Home is the wide and flat Platte River with its exposed sandbars and shallow currents where we splashed and played and made campfires during dry summers. It is also the river raging and full with spring rains, surging under bridges and expanding past its banks.
We saw this same love of place when we lived in Arizona. The natives were tied to the desert. They knew its rhythm and would climb its craggy mountains to watch the sun rise majestically over the expanse of the valley, illuminating saguaros, palo verde, and mesquite trees. They knew its sounds and seasons–all its own. As an outsider I often boiled it down to “hot and not hot.” But natives lived by the when the orange trees bore fruit, when the cacti bloomed wide, and when the palo verde trees with their whimsical green trunks and branches would explode with tiny yellow flowers. They knew the nuances of the desert, like I know the nuances of the prairie, and my husband knows the nuances of the Ozark hills and trees.
In science we talk about how the natural elements and forces of weather shape the hills and mountains, plains and valleys, over time. But, if we too live long enough in a place, the location begins to shape us.
If collecting quality children’s literature is something you care about–you need to add Thomas Locker to your library. He may lack the silliness of Sandra Boynton or whimsy of Dr. Seuss, but he marries education, detailed landscapes, and quality writing–both poetry and prose.
I think Home: A Journey through America would be a great summer read before a family vacation. Maybe present a journal or sketch pad to your child and encourage them to write about and illustrate where you live, and then to do the same as you travel–sketching the changing landscapes and writing (in poetry or prose) descriptions of the places you go. This encourages the skill of observation that is not only a tool of artists and writers, but also of scientists, psychologists, and teachers.
If they are not artistic with a pen or pencil, let your child take photographs. There is something about looking at the world through the lens of a camera that empowers an artistic eye to see beauty not only in the grandiose, but also in the mundane. We use this camera that we bought off amazon before Rebekah was born. I have been pretty happy with it. As far as nice, but basic and affordable, digital cameras go–this would be perfect for a teenager interested in photography.
As far as Yarn Along Wednesday goes, I haven’t accomplished too much other than finishing off this small gift. I am keeping out a bit of yarn to piddle with over the next couple weeks, but most of my projects and yarn will be packed up for our move.
I am so excited to share more about Patrick Dobson’s books with you next week. As I started writing about them, I realized I would need to dedicate a couple of posts to them as books, as well as ideas and inspirations that they aroused within me!