|On The Night That We First Met|
On The Night That We First Met is an unusual picture book. Written by Nadine Bates, illustrated by Zlatica Hlavacova and to be published by Hootenanny Books (June, 2011), it almost defies classification. It's not quite a rhyming picture book, although there is rhyme in the story. It's not just a children's picture book - I can see adults buying it for each other too. On The Night That We First Met creates the atmosphere of a lovely dream.
The story begins: On the night that we first met, the trees stretched a little taller toward the velvet-cloaked sky. It goes on to say that stars hummed a little quieter to hear your soft new sound and Star shaped flowers waltzed in soft moonlight - beautiful words and descriptions slowly building in us an understanding of how special the night that we first met was. The subtext of illustrations shows us that the "we" is actually a family meeting their new baby, but the words can be applied to any loving relationship: My sweet, exquisite darling one, at last I sighed, for you had come ...on the night that we first met.
The illustrations are beautiful. Hlavacova uses soft muted colours in pictures that have a naive quality to them. Doll-like figures float through misty landscapes, complementing the evocative text.
Bates has added two special pages to involve children in thinking about their own first time meeting their families. "Ask somebody who loves you what the first time you both met was like" and "Write your very OWN story about when you met". I think this is a great way to personalise the book for a child reader. It also opens the channels of communication so parents can explain how very thankful they are to have a child in their lives.
If you're looking for a special gift for a baby shower, On The Night That We First Met is something different. It also provides an unusual perspective on relationships in general, and being a much-loved addition to a family in particular. Add beautiful music softly playing in the background and share it with your kids soon.
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