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8 February 2023 IN EVERY LIFE by Marla Frazee, Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane, February 2023, 32p., ISBN: 978-1-6659-1248-8


“Love can change the world

Love can change your life

Do what makes you happy

Do what you know is right

And love with all your might before it's too late”

– Mike Pinder, “My Song” (1971)


“In 1998, during a service at All Saints Church in Pasadena, California, I heard a call-and-response version of a Jewish baby-naming blessing and immediately felt its potential as a picture book. The original source of the poem is unknown, but it has been adapted and used widely in welcoming ceremonies of all kinds.”

– from the author’s note on the copyright page


“In every birth, blessed is the wonder.

In every smile, blessed is the light.

In every hope, blessed is the doing.

In every sadness, blessed is the comfort.

In every moment, blessed is the mystery.

In every love, blessed are the tears.

And in every life, blessed is the love.”

– complete text of the book


A quarter century after first imagining this book, Marla Frazee has brought IN EVERY LIFE to fruition. It’s a stunningly beautiful, light-filled, meditative read that is a must experience for all ages.


IN EVERY LIFE has a large 11”x11” trim size, providing plenty of space for multiple illustrations on each two-page spread. There is an alternating pattern to the book: A line of the poem is accompanied by ten or so individual, unbordered, uncaptioned illustrations in Ms. Frazee’s distinctive pencil and gouache style, depicting scenes related to that line. Each is a snapshot of one or more people, caught at a moment in a story that one can only imagine. The  subjects and their relationships are various, but all radiate a sense of humanity and kindness.


Turn the page, and there is a double spread with a wordless, grand work of art. A unifying color scheme links each set--the pages with the line of verse and unbordered vignettes, and the pages with the single illustration.  The illustrations for “In every birth, blessed is the wonder,” have a pink color theme, the ones depicting sadness have gray, while mystery is blue, life is purple, and so on. The use of color helps to set a tone that touches the reader emotionally. 


I particularly enjoy the cleverly humorous illustrations that little kids and not-so-little kids will pick up on. For instance, within the orange-themed “In every hope, blessed is the doing” spread, I smiled at the guys holding a kite and looking upward as if studying the (lack of) wind. When you look closer, one of the men is wearing a JPL sweatshirt. JPL is NASA’s famous Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, where Ms. Frazee lives. In the same spread, also humorous, is a little kid sitting on the potty, hoping…waiting to do. 


Altogether, the book contains eighty illustrations, each one offering readers and listeners the opportunity to contemplate the unwritten stories behind the pictures.


Like a song that you listen to again and again, this lovely reflection on humanity is a treasure that many readers will pore over and repeatedly enjoy. We are blessed to live in an age where creativity and book-making technology come together to provide such jewels as this.


Richie Partington, MLIS

Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.pbworks.com





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