Readers will be happily confused by this picture book.
Almost every page of the story—based on a piece by Israeli national poet Hayim Nahman Bialik—is gently disorienting. The narrator is a young girl walking through the woods with her mother, and as they look at the reflections in the water, she says, “The forest is upside-down,” and “There in the water: the sky!” Kelner takes this as a challenge. In her paintings, the sky is often the same color as the water or the ground, and the characters’ clothing matches the nature around them. The most challenging section is when the girl says, “Ima and I see our reflections in the pond. We look the same, like two drops of rain.” (“Ima” is the Hebrew word for “Mom.”) This isn’t quite true. The mother is tall, freckled, and redheaded. The daughter is more compact, and her skin is the pale brown of coffee ice cream. But the paintings include small details that mirror each other so that the characters really do start to look alike. Busheri adds off rhymes to the text at unexpected moments (“same” and “rain,” “come” and “sun”), which is both lovely and a bit startling. The imagery, both in the words and the pictures, is so beautiful that readers may be heartbroken when a ripple in the water takes the reflections away.
People will be stunned by this book even if they’re too astonished to explain why. (Picture book. 4-9)