Every now and then a book comes along that takes your breath away. You read it over and over. It settles in your heart. Then time passes and your mind forgets. But your heart remembers. And one day, if you are lucky, you’ll find that book again. You’ll run your hands across its cover. You’ll open it slowly, part of you fearing you won’t find the connection you felt before. But then the place in your heart where that book had settled awakens. And that is joy!
For me, such a book is Don Brown’s Across a Dark and Wild Sea . I’ve been thinking about picture book biography quite a lot lately as I prepare for the class I’ll be teaching on writers.com in September. A conversation with writer Stephanie Greene about our works in progress sparked a memory of this old favorite, and I tracked down a copy. I opened it and read:
“Columcille was born in 521. He was the son of a king, from a corner of Ireland scrubbed hard by ocean winds, in a time that came to be known as the Dark Ages.
It was the darkness of ignorance and the shadow it cast over people’s minds.”
And it was love all over again! Such glorious prose. Such stunning illustrations.
This is a book about a boy who loved letters who grew to become a monk with a passion for books–a passion that spilled blood, yes, but ultimately illuminated a small corner of the Dark Ages.
Search it out if you can. If you wonder how you can write a picture book about dark times and difficult things, Don Brown‘s work can serve as a beacon.