Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Tiny Portrait - a book review

Quote of the day:

   "Every man is a quotation from his ancestors."  -author unknown

Today's featured book:

Author:  Heidi Carla
Illustrations:  Karla Cinquanta

About the book:

This compact little book is not only a wonderful story but a brilliant way to get your child interested in genealogy and family history.  

Tess and her brother Toby find their mother's memory box on the basement steps one day and decide to take a peek inside.  They discover  a diary, some old postcards and a tiny tintype portrait.  The frame opens up and inside is the photo of a woman holding a smiling dog in her arms, and is labelled ,"Lottie and Pearl, 1890."

Tess carefully takes the portrait and the old dairy upstairs and before going to bed places them on her nightstand.  The gentle night breeze coming in through her window causes the pages to rustle throughout the night and in the morning she discovers that the tiny portrait has fallen onto the floor.  As she takes a closer look she notices that the image of the photo has faded leaving only a faint outline of the two.  This begins the adventure of who? how? where? what if? 

Toby discovers a strange dog between the rosebushes outside and then a glimpse of an inexplicable woman standing in the midst of the flower garden.  Any guesses who they might be?  

The kids rush out to confront the enigmatic intruder but all they find is a old sheet of paper covered in curly handwriting.  Excited and breathless they set out on a journey of discovery.  Their path of learning takes them into town to the local library, an antique shop where they gain some understanding of a tin plate photograph from the shop owner, and more clues of the free-spirited woman's escape through hand-written notes that the children find and pick up along the way.  

Realizing this elusive apparition is beyond their reach they return home downcast and disappointed.  Their mother at dinner asks them about their day and Tess, feeling uncomfortable about sharing their escapades, only brings up about the family tree book.  This conversation opens up a whole meaningful dialogue pertaining to their own family history and leads them into an attainable adventure of discovery where everyone can get involved.  

The book contains wonderful illustrations, snippets of poetry and just enough mystery to make it a fine catalyst to get children looking into their own heritage and learning about their roots.

About the author and illustrator:

Heidi Carla has received writing fellowships from the Albee, Hedgebrook and MacDowell Foundations. She began writing "The Tiny Portrait" while researching her own family tree with her sister Karla Cinquanta.  She lives in Rhode Island.  This is her first book for children.

Karla Cinquanta is an award-winning photographer and mosaic artist whose work has been seen in national photography magazines, galleries and museums. Karla resides in Massachusetts and enjoys antiques and early photography.

Book review rating:  8 (Fantastic!)

Read on and read always.

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