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  • Michelle Nott

Experiencing Time in Small Moments

Is Was written and illustrated by Deborah Freedman, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing).


Is Was, another exquisitely created book by Deborah Freedman, feels like a soft hug and sounds like a whisper of reassurance. It is poetry in word and image.


Children are constantly observing the world around them and trying to make sense of it all. Freedman's spare text and encompassing images carry readers through the innocence of that curiosity and wonder.


To begin the story, Freedman talks of the sky that was blue, that is now gray and raining. She illustrates further how the rain is, with a repetition of the word "is" sprinkled in the raindrops. On the page turn, readers understand the rain is over with simply the word "was" above a succession of puddles.


Freedman continues exploring the passage of time, what may come or go or who may come or go, in the bigger and smaller moments throughout this one day. Her watercolor and pencil illustrations wrap readers into each scene and, as if holding their hands, pulls them on to the next. Although the text consists mainly of the words "is" and "was," words of being, each spread emphasizes the movement that takes us from one moment to the next, from "is" to "was."


Imagine It!


So much can happen in a day. Venture outside or observe through a window (whatever is convenient at this moment).


Look for traces of what "is" right now. Do you see puddles, fallen leaves, car tracks, or maybe footprints?


Imagine what "was" that left these clues? It could be anything! Are the puddles from rain or from a hurricane or did a giant spit on the ground? Did the leaves fall from the trees because of the wind or because a critter was bouncing on a branch or because a fairy was collecting them for a quilt? What vehicle left the tracks? What sort of being just walked by?


Imagine anything you'd like! Imagine any kind of day you'd like!



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