Life
Life
Cynthia Rylant, illus. by Brendan Wenzel
ISBN 9781481451628
Beach Lane Books, 2017.
5 stars
Keywords: 0-3 ages cynthia-rylant life

Life
by Cynthia Rylant, illus. by Brendan Wenzel

This picture book is written as a poetic musing on “life” by Cynthia Rylant, who has written over 100 books for children, with several Newbery Medals and Caldecott Honor Books. Brendan Wenzel (who won a Caldecott Honor Medal for his picture book, They All Saw A Cat, a look at the day in the cat through the eyes of many creatures), chooses to illustrate Rylant’s words with a host of different animals.

The vibrant, life-filled illustrations are accompanied by one line of text per page. The story begins with an illustration of a small plant growing in the desert, with the line, “Life begins small. Even for the elephants. Then it grows.” The following page shows a baby elephant reaching a trunk up to a larger elephant. “Life grows. Ask any animal on earth, what do you love about life?

The next couple of illustrations are devoted to individual animals, and then the reader follows a little bird who is flying through a dark and stormy forest and over a ravine, accompanied by the lines: ”Life is not always easy. There will probably be a stretch of wilderness now and then.” But, the book reminds the reader, the wilderness will eventually come to an end. At the very center of the book are a dog and cat, each illustrated on separate pages, and below the illustrations are the words, “Remember this: in every corner of the world, there is something to love.” It is sweet, but also powerful.


The message of the book, told through illustrations of animals in richly saturated colors, is that our world is full of so much life that the readers of the book, humans, need to protect that life, and also recognize,

“it is worth

waking up in the morning

to see what might happen.”


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