How to…Be a Child

Book reviewed:  how to – Julie Morstad, Simply Read Books, 2013

In case you have forgotten how to be a child, Julie Morstad can reacquaint you with the “idiomatic logic,” of this stage of life, immortalized by Annie Ross in the lyrics to the vocalese number, “Twisted,” covered by Joni Mitchell on her “Court and Spark” album

how to cover

The children in Morstad’s loosely connected series of instructions know “how to watch/where you’re going” by observing your shadow, “how to wash your face” by standing in the rain, and “how to make new friends” by drawing pictures of them with sidewalk chalk.  While adults may forget that a child taking a bath is a mermaid and an alternating stack of children and cushions is a sandwich, younger people know that their parents’ inability to distinguish literal from figurative in just the right way can be frustrating.


You may remember from previous blogs entries about Morstad (concerning Swan and Singing Away the Dark) that I am in awe of her pensive and determined images of people whose beauty and originality carefully avoid sentimentality but are full of deep emotion.

The little boy here making “some music” by banging on inverted pots and baskets with wooden spoons seems quite serious in his experiment.  Two girls, one in overalls and one in a skirt and Peter Pan blouse,  demonstrate “how to stay close” by standing next to one another, each one’s long braid intertwined with her friends. They look a bit sad, as if maybe beginning to realize that this pairing won’t last forever.

To bring even more pleasure in this new year, Julie Morstad and author Kyo Maclear have a new picture book coming out on February 6, a biography of the unconventional fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, entitled BloomThe two have collaborated before, on the remarkably innovative creation of a fictional young chef, Julia, Child. It is hard to imagine that they will not do justice to the woman credited with bringing the color shocking pink to our wardrobes.

Best wishes for 2018!


2 thoughts on “How to…Be a Child

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