Pretty much, you could pick up this book and read it to a child of any age, and they would probably be captivated by the art, the story, and the concept of infinity.
You heard me... The concept of infinity.
I read the book to my daughter yesterday. A few minutes after we closed it and I had moved on, I noticed she was reading it again. Somehow, it drew her right back in. That's a successful book!
How does the author, Kate Hosford, do it? How did she create a contemplative story about such a vast and complex concept--and keep it fresh and engaging for young readers?
Here's the breakdown on her interesting approach:
We have a girl (Uma) with new red shoes who looks up at the stars and asks a big question--how can I imagine 'infinity'? Remember those red shoes--they're important. They ground the story in the real world and serve as a structural framework, since they come back in at the end. Those red shoes are actually a nice little set of bookends.
All through the middle of the story, Uma asks various people how they imagine infinity. She has a chance to try out all their definitions and see if they work for her.
In the final pages, Uma has a personal experience that becomes her 'a-ha!' moment. She comes to realize what 'infinity' means to her when her grandmother, a source of infinite love, notices and compliments Uma's shoes.
In a perfect circular ending, the two end the story looking at the stars together.
So, structure serves as an indispensable aid to conveying this difficult topic, as does grounding the story with real-world objects (the shoes) and relationships/emotions.
Add to this the careful attention lavished on this book by the art director and illustrator, and you have a final piece that is beautiful, intriguing, delightful, informative--and important.