Yesterday was National Poetry Day in the UK. What better time to celebrate a picture book by a noted Iranian poet and picture book author that was published in the UK!
Title: Alive Again
Written By: Ahmadreza Ahmadi
Illustrated By: Nahid Kazemi
Publisher/date: Tiny Owl Publishing, Ltd/2105 (first published in Persian, Salis Publisher, Tehran, Iran/2013)
Suitable for Ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: loss, regeneration, poetry, WNDB, ReadYourWorld, Iran
Last night the wind blew the blossom from the trees.
“When blossom goes, does the word ‘blossom’ die?” asked a boy.
“Can there ever be blossom again?”
Brief Synopsis: (from the publisher’s website)
When the blossom disappears, a little boy wonders, will it ever return? And when the rains stop, have they gone forever? This is a story about understanding the world and learning to trust. How do we find that grain of hope that good things might return?
Links to Resources:
- Discover more about Iran, where the author and illustrator live.
- Make a list of things, like flowers or migrating animals, that seem to disappear and then reappear.
- Draw a tree in summer and winter. What’s the same? What’s different?
- Kazemi uses fabric swatches to make collage illustrations. Try making a bug from photographs in food magazines.
Why I Like this Book:
Alive Again is a deceptively simple book that poses the question of what happens to things when they disappear or cease to happen. Are they gone forever? And if they’re gone, do we still need their names? For instance, if no one travels, do we need the word “journey”? Will that word cease to exist?
Alive Again is a wonderful book to share with children in the “why”, “what if”, questioning phase. I think it’s also a great introduction to discussing seasons or other cyclical events, and, perhaps most importantly, it’s a sympathetic introduction to concepts of loss and holding on to what or who we love.
Kazemi’s collaged artwork pares well with the sparse text. I especially loved the blossoms that reminded me of winged insects or birds and made me wonder about the connections among the plant and animal inhabitants of the natural world.
A Note about Craft:
With his thought-provoking, sparse text, Ahmadi causes the reader to wonder not only about the things that disappear, like the blossom, but also about the boy and his father, the only characters in the story. In an afterward, the publisher reminds us that “it is exactly those gaps in the narrative that leave room for the child’s imagination to fill out the story”. How do we as authors and/or illustrators leave room for children’s imaginations?
Find out more about Ahmadreza Ahmadi here , one of Iran’s “greatest and most famous contemporary poets” and see my review of his book When I Coloured in the World here.
Discover more books published by Tiny Owl Publishing Ltd, “an independent publishing company committed to producing beautiful, original books for children”, founded on the “belief that stories act as bridges – providing pathways to new experiences whilst connecting us to here and there” and publishing a number of books by Iranian authors and illustrators.
While not currently available in US book shops, Alive Again is available through the Book Depository which ships for free to the US.
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!
Another great book for curios children. Love the what-if questions. This is the third book I’ve seen recently with a similar theme. I would have loved it as a child. Nice choice.
Thanks. This one really seems to meet children where they’re at. I’d have loved this as a kid, too.
I love picture books that tackle more abstract questions because certainly have them. It is also neat to see more Iranian authors and illustrators showcased. Thank you.
Tiny Owl does a great job of highlighting the Iranians. Must confess I hadn’t read anything from there until I found Tiny Owl.
This book sounds unusual and fascinating. I’ve got to see if I can find it. Thanks!
The books originally published in Iran have a unique look & perspective. Much more philosophical than the “average” picture book. I hope you can find it!
I love your questions about the word “journey.” I am looking forward to finding this book. Thank you for always finding such amazing books. Have you ever read early MG “Battle for Castle Cockatrice” by Gerald Durell (1974)? It has a parrot – “keeper of the words” – who uses every words each year to keep them from disappearing!
Maria, I haven’t read Battle for Castle Cockatrice…yet! Sounds fascinating & a great companion to Alive Again. Thanks for sharing!
What beautiful artwork! Hope I can find it through my library!
The artwork in the Tiny Owl picture books originally published in Iran is stunning, Julie. I hope you can find it!
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