Elizabeth Rusch, author
Elizabeth Rusch is the author of more than two dozen award-winning children’s books, including A Day with No Crayons, The Music of Life, Zee Grows a Tree, Volcano Rising, and Mario and the Hole in the Sky, winner of the AAAS/Subaru Prize for Excellence in Science Books, the Green Earth Book Award, the Cook Prize, and the Golden Kite Award.
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Elizabeth Goss, illustrator
Elizabeth Goss is an illustrator, author, and papercutter. Her picture book My Way West: Real Kids Traveling the Oregon and California Trails won the Paterson Prize for Books for Young People. A proud member of the Guild of American Papercutters, Elizabeth teaches art workshops across the Pacific Northwest and loves welcoming students of all ages into the world of papercutting.
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- Coming soon!
The Horn Book
Rusch’s thought-provoking text begins: “Nothing is the space around and between everything.” The presence of nothing, cued by plain white areas in the cut-paper illustrations, appears first as physical space: the gap where a tooth once sat, the expanse between stars in the sky, the space for a missing puzzle piece. Important, too, is nothing as temporal space: the moment before a leap of faith or a bit of spare time in one’s day. Even in music, room for nothing fosters beauty: “For what is a song without some silence?” There can be, of course, too much or too little of nothing. On these spreads in particular, Goss’s use of color and space makes a strong emotional impact: a queasy-green child sandwiched between tightly packed adults in a crowd finds “too little” of nothing, while a blue-hued child sulks surrounded by “too much” of nothing amid a stark white double-page spread. Wherever nothing is found, there is space for something to unfurl. Goss’s intricate illustrations visually articulate the importance of nothing, or negative space, as discussed in the back matter. A striking call for young children and aspiring artists alike, the story sets out to prove that “nothing” matters, after all.
What is nothing? What does the absence of everything mean? It is in the emptiness that surrounds everything that is, and it is the space between. Just like its name suggests, outer space sure has a lot of nothing. This space is what creates life. Nothing can help us read, notice, and see new things. It’s not just the absence of what we can see, though. It can be a feeling, such as anticipation or rest. Sometimes we feel so overcrowded because there is not enough nothing, but other times we are lonely because there is too much nothing. Sometimes there is the perfect balance! When we use nothing thoughtfully, we can create beauty. The main text is followed by a spread about the artistic use of negative space, from relatable examples like jack-o’-lanterns to how designers think. The reader is encouraged to try cutting paper and making use of taking away, of creating space, in the same manner as the illustrations in the book were made by cutting paper. The illustrations throughout are both simple and powerful, making use of positive and negative space while also conveying the feelings that coincide. Just like the concept of zero is hard for children to grasp at first, so is the concept of nothing. This book doesn’t just talk about nothing; it captures and shows it off expertly. Some children may not be ready to understand nothing, but this is great read for those who are. This book promotes deep thinking and reflection, mindfulness and meditation, and even artistic expression, and is well-suited to the art of elementary classroom.
Page count: 32
9 x 9