By Jillian Lauren
First of all, go order Julie Fogliano’s When Green Becomes Tomatoes right this minute. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Run-don’t-walk next Tuesday and get it at your local independent bookstore.
Okay, well done. You’ll thank me! Now I’ll tell you a little story about this gem of a book…
Bright Eyes has a language delay and my big genius therapeutic plan is to talk to him pretty much non-stop. I’m from New Jersey, so constant talking isn’t much of a stretch for me. I did the same with Tariku when he was learning to talk, before he got wicked sick of my yammering and retaliated by getting really into dinosaurs and math and things about which I have exactly nothing to say. Touchè.
I never actually expect Bright Eyes to pay any real attention, unless I slip in words like COOKIES or FROZEN or GRANDMA. I’m not really concerned- I figure just the sound of the language helps.
So the other day as we were straightening up, I told him all about my best childhood girlfriend, and how she used to write me notes in class, telling me wonderful stories. I told him she lives in a magical farmhouse in the Hudson Valley with her family and still writes terrific stories for kids (like this oneand this one), and that she has a new beautiful book of poetry coming out about which I’m so excited.
Then, when we were picking out our bedtime books, he said, “I want the book about the little girl.”
“What little girl?”
“You. The little girl you.”
“Do you mean the book written by my friend from when I was a little girl?”
“Yeah. That girl.”
You could have knocked me over with a feather.
“You were listening!”
Bright Eyes apparently has no sarcasm delay. So that’s good news.
We got my advance copy of When Green Becomes Tomatoes off the shelf and began to read.
Initially, I thought it was a bit advanced for him conceptually, but it didn’t seem to matter. He was enchanted. As with all good poetry, each stanza we read spiraled into new thoughts and questions. When Green Becomes Tomatoes is a book of children’s poetry, arranged by seasons and presented in diary form. As we read it, Bright Eyes and I wound up talking about rainstorms and falling leaves and flowers and colors and endings and beginnings.
The poems carry echoes of ee cummings, William Carlos Williams, and Emily Dickinson. They’re both bold and delicate, broad and deep. Julie’s words sparkle, as they always have, with the magic that comes along with close attention to the world around us. And Julie Morstad’s illustrations are just lovely. I’ve read it cover to cover and I know it’s destined to be a classic, loved by kids and grown-ups alike.
I’m just so darn proud of my dear friend. It has been one of the great blessings of my life to know her and get glimpses into her remarkable inner life. I’m thrilled that the rest of the world now gets to know her, too, through her timeless work.
To read more by Jillian Lauren, check out her blog.