In González and Garcia’s picture-book debut, a girl and her grandfather reflect on the cycles that characterize life, death, and renewal.
“Grandpa says circles are all around us.” Above the girl’s head, a rainbow stretches across the sky, a vibrant half circle. The other half? It’s beneath the Earth, unseen, nourishing. With this modest declaration, González asks readers to rethink the world as one full of unceasing rebirth. A clearer example of this viewpoint soon follows. In the garden, Grandpa and the girl tend to their lettuce, carrots, and chiles, with the resulting stems, leaves, and seeds going back into the ground. “What we take from the earth we return,” says Grandpa. Measured and subdued, the bare-bones story demands patience, which may irk readers with a preference for livelier stories, but the author’s direct approach and light touch soften the otherwise weighty subject matter. Faded, sketched lines and arcs of dense light enclose the girl and Grandpa (both depicted with golden-brown skin) in half-formed and fully formed circles from picture to picture, while shadows and colors intertwine with people and the scenes around them. On a smaller scale, the duo notes how circles shape their bellies as well as their eyes. Yet it’s the final scene—a girl and her grandfather sitting near the buried ashes of their ancestors—that brings everything full circle. In her author’s note, González, a member of the Auteca Paguame family of the Tap Pilam Coahuitecan nation, references her, and by extension her characters’, mestizo heritage.
Life-affirming in its quiet splendor. (author’s note) (Picture book. 3-7)