Nature’s Paintbox: A Seasonal Gallery of Art and Verse
By Patricia Thomas
Illustrated by Craig Orback
In July, 2012, I attended a one day workshop hosted by my writing buddy Pam Zollman and The Writer’s Plot in Greenville, South Carolina. I met a couple of picture book icons that day – Harold Underdown and Patricia Thomas. I asked her if she’d be my mentor. I now know the question was totally inappropriate at that time, but I identified with her style and voice and wanted to learn HOW she brought it all together.
I still do.
Nature’s Paintbox is a lovely read-aloud that has influenced my own style of writing encouraging words for children and the adults who love them.
Before I met Patricia I had decided that most successful picture books are poetry of one kind or another. Silly or serious, sad or sublime they begin and end with poetry to me. Nature’s Paintbox helped to cement that idea into my head.
The 32 beautifully illustrated pages provide lovely backdrops to Patricia’s poetic word pictures about each of the four seasons in mid-America. Her words are not rhymed verse so popular in books for very young children. They are poetic allusions, descriptions and memories woven together with a variety of literary devices.
Craig Orback created beautiful illustrations that harmonize wonderfully with the word pictures Patricia spun in this book.
If you’ve ever critiqued one of my manuscripts you’ll recognize that I, too, am in love with the subtle weaving of many literary devices into one poetic cloth called a picture book. I can thank Patricia Thomas for helping me congeal that aspect of my writing voice. She combines rhythm, rhyme, interior rhyme, onomatopoeia, alliteration, assonance, syncopation, pause and picturesque words to paint her story on the canvas of my mind.
I don’t know for sure whether I love that style because of Patricia Thomas’s books, or if I love her books because of that style. Many thanks, Patricia.
Here’s a sampling of her intentional rambling about winter:
Berries on a bush;
Cardinals on a branch;
a red mailbox flag
winking a cheery hello,
its caps of snow;
a snowman’s carrot nose,
a holly wreath
with a red velvet bow;
I think Nature’s Paintbox is poetry and art entwined.