The simplicity of Nest by Jorey Hurley is astonishing--the spareness of the art, and the economy of language. Just 14 words describe an entire cycle of life, from the building of the nest for a newly laid egg, to that new life maturing, finding a mate and beginning its own family. One word per spread completes the story.
Over the years that I have been in children's books, I have heard many adults cavalierly say that they "have a picture book" they've written. Usually people with little experience reading them to children or studying them to see what makes the successful ones a success and the misfires a misfire. A great picture book is like a fine poem: every word counts.
|Interior from Nest by Jorey Hurley|
As a child lives with the book and returns to it for multiple readings, and as his or her experience of the world widens, these double meanings start to become clear, and the book feels new to the child. Children begin to wonder, what other discoveries can I make? What other ideas are here, hidden on the page (who's holding the other end of the kite on the "surprise" page in Nest, for instance)? What other books of mine have these secret revelations awaiting my newfound understanding of the world? That might not be quite how the child would put it, but these are the connections he or she is making. Most importantly, children begin to see that books are a way to unlock life's mysteries.