Jim LaMarche loves light. When bands of slanting afternoon light spill into the kitchen or early morning light causes a blush to fall over a meadow, Mr. LaMarche catches the light and every subtle shade it awakens. He sees the world in quiet tableaus of light and color.
A young boy holds his silver spoon over a bowl of chowder. His hair is copper in the light from the window, and the green ceramic bowl shines in the back of the spoon. Beside the bowl are a pale brown oyster cracker and an apple with so many shades of russet and gold that it might be another sun.
Albert holds a cardinal’s nest in his outstretched hand. Dawn light illuminates the blue veins along his inner wrist. It touches the four speckled eggs in the nest, lights the cardinal’s red crest, warms the tips of Albert’s fingers. Some of the scraps of branch and thread catch the sun’s light, too. They shine golden, and we know that this nest holds priceless treasure.
There is the blue-gold light that falls in a fierce curtain over the edge of the pinewood. A boy poles his raft up the river, chin lifted, head cocked, while the birds circle in a storm of beaks and iridescent feathers. These shafts of light are so substantial that they pierce the greenish river water. It alters their color but not their strength, and the otters bend around them as they hunt for fish.
A girl perches in a sprawling tree, pencil and notebook in hand, and watches a silent glade as autumn turns to winter. In the beginning, the air is golden, all of it. Bears forage in the young aspens and woodpeckers hammer in the pines. In November, the chipmunks gather pine nuts, and behind them the light is purple. It pales to gray as the Canada geese and the wild turkeys rise in flight, and when the first snow falls, everything is lit.
Jim LaMarche loves light. He can make a meadow or a riverbank, a bathtub or a fishing boat, as magical as any fairy world. His colored-pencil illustrations will leave you happy-sighing. You can find his work in books like Up, Albert, The Raft, Pond, and Winter is Coming.