Held in Love
Held in Love
Dawn Casey, illus. Oamul Lu. London: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, hb, 978 1 7860 3067 2, 2018, £11.99, 32pp.
Poetry, picture book, 1-5 years
This beautiful, short picture book is a mother’s blessing for her to read and give to her child.
The text, six/seven words on each page, persistently evokes the immediacy and proximity of a mother’s love.
The first six pages, however, begin in a galaxy far away, for “…within the galaxy the world is turning…”. We then cascade down through the planet, through hills rolling, villages nestling, home resting until we reach a mother holding her baby: “Within her arms, a child is held. And on her lips a blessing”.
The blessing is amplified in careful and warmly illustrated words. They begin with “May your feet skip and leap” and take us through hands and ears until we come to a carefully crafted caesura. After the prayer “may your ears listen and hear the singing”, and then “…the silence.”
We return to the blessing of lips that smile and the belly that laughs until we come to the prayer that “when tears flow, peace may follow.” The book ends where it begins, with the galaxy: …”May your eyes look to the stars and know…that you are held in the arms of the universe.” It is a lovely prayer, but the word “prayer” is never used; instead, only the word “blessing” is mentioned.
The illustrations are warm, bold and pastel without gloss or glare. I particularly liked the house at the caesura of the book, the silence. The child is pictured encountering the world around them in stillness and with eyes closed. Standing behind the child is the house. Perhaps it was my imagination, but I felt that windows, gable and door formed the eyes, nose and mouth of an adoring being – a loving universe perhaps.
Review by Margaret Strain (with a little help from husband John)