These images are from a book called What You Know First – an achingly beautiful children’s book by Patricia MacLachlan, with engravings by Barry Moser. For those of you out there with children, this is a feast for the heart and soul, as well as the eyes – a story about a family who must leave their farm, and the young daughter that narrates, who does not want to leave. For those of you without children who love engravings, and masterful storytelling, this is simply brilliant. Moser engraved his images using Resingrave, a synthetic wood engraving medium that is manufactured here in California. The snapshots I’ve taken above do not begin to bring out the exquisite detail present in each and every engraving.
This is such a hauntingly poetic book; it spills out a life mostly untold, while simultaneously allowing us, the readers, to engage deeply in the loss this family is experiencing, through its beauty, and through the whispering of the open land that these images capture. I am from the midwest…I’ve secretly, and not so secretly, longed for a farm in my life since I can remember…and as I read this (which I do often) I can so vividly remember the open fields surrounding our sweet home, the sound of the wind moving through the tall meadow grasses, the big bold skies, the endless plain. My children, however, were born (and are being raised) in Los Angeles, and yet, they love this book as much as I do…a testament to the depths that this spare book brings to the reader with such simplicity and grace.
This book would make for a marvelous gift, and with Christmas coming up, you might just buy one for that special someone, and one for yourself :)