Two things come to mind when reading Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger. The first is a song by Edie Brickell, also called Green. Barring a rigorous deconstruction of the lyrics (unlikely), the song appears to be about the pleasures of the colour green, especially grass (of the lawn variety) as viewed from the other side of the proverbial fence.
The second is The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. This newly published novel about the slowing down of the earth’s rotation (as told by an 11 year old girl) moved me so deeply I see the world differently, or at least, more attentively. I am filled with appreciation for the way things are now, at this particular angle and spin of the axis.
In my part of the world (Alberta), the land is abundant, wondrously varied, and green. Although we may not be facing a sudden catastrophic event as in The Age of Miracles, parts of the US are experiencing a drought on such a massive scale it rivals the 1930’s Depression era, and just a few years ago my province stared down a similar abyss, the evidence of which can still be seen in the canopy. And yet, this summer and the last, we’ve had record rainfall. I never take green for granted. It is the colour of life.
OK, maybe I’m waxing a little too poetic about something that is all around us, but Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s book is a paean to reverence as much as it is to a colour. What could be more beautiful than a lime, cut in halves, painted in thick daubs of lemon-lime acrylic? Or a lizard camouflaged in Pollock-esque splashes of olive and khaki? The paintings in Green are exuberant and lush, like a summer day. Each two-page spread reveals another clever interpretation of the colour green, from pea pod green to sea turtle green, faded green and even no green-a colour challenged snowman. Seeger’s sense of humour is throughout the book, including an illustration of a stop sign, with the caption never green. The die-cuts on each page hint at pictures to come; a feature that ensures momentum, although it’s easy to linger on each gorgeous painting.
In The Age of Miracles, as the days grow longer and the land burns under the unrelieved heat of the sun, the character laconically lists the daily losses of birds and trees, as bugs proliferate and fruit shrivels on the vine. I read The Age of Miracles outside on the grass like the boy in Seeger’s book (‘shaded green.’) The grass was perhaps a bit too high, therefore cool and ticklish on my bare toes. A bubbling drink dripping with condensation perched beside me, edged with a slice of sour lime. I felt extraordinarily lucky to be alive, my senses on that day so inexplicably and richly rewarded. Funny how a book about the death of a planet could be so exhilarating, although I suspect The Age of Miracles is at a deeper level, a parable, a microcosm of the environmental challenges ahead. Green, after all, is not a given.
Reading The Age of Miracles brought a level of poignancy to Seeger’s Green which may or may not have existed otherwise. It is, after all, a picture book without an agenda, unless fostering an appreciation, and perhaps a stewardship for the world around us is considered indoctrination. Whatever the interpretation, green…in song, in art, and on a summer’s day, is a beautiful thing.
Have you seen green?
Have you seen grass?
So green… grass.
I’d like to be like that.
I’d like to be like that.
I’d like to be moving on a lawn… so green.
Laura Vaccaro Seeger began drawing as a two year old and never stopped. She is a New York Times best-selling author and illustrator and the winner of the Caldecott Honor for Dog and Bear, and a 2-time winner of the Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor (Dog and Bear, Two Friends, Three Stories.) Laura earned her BFA degree at the School of Fine Art and Design at the State University of New York, and then moved to Manhattan and to begin a career as an animator, artist, designer and editor in the network television business. Laura lives in Rockville Centre, Long Island, with her husband, Chris, their two sons, Drew and Dylan, and their dog, Copper, the star of her Dog and Bear series.
Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger. Published by Roaring Brook Press. 2012 ISBN: 978-1596433977 Watch the promo video here.
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. Published by 2012. (HIGHLY recommended, for adults but also as a fantastic YA choice…)
Green by Edie Brickell, from Picture Perfect Morning. Published by Geffen Records