A few weeks ago, I blogged about one of my favorite books--That Book Woman. On October 17th, I was wandering through a local bookstore and happened upon David Small's recent memoir (he is the illustrator of That Book Woman, Imogene's Antlers, The Gardener, The Library, etc.). It's called Stitches. The title and the cover caught my eye in the autobiography section. I picked it up and took it to a table and ended up reading the whole thing.
The memoir itself is written in a graphic novel format, black and white. The drawings are amazing. The book itself is absolutely incredible, stirring, unfathomable. The depth at which he tells the story is searing and it left me speechless. The book details the author's horrific childhood, which can only be described as intense and painful. Nothing like my childhood and yet I couldn't put this book down. It's poignant. It's moving. It's profound. It's amazing. It's honest. It's cathartic.
How one of our most beloved illustrators could escape the horrors of his childhood to create some of our favorite amazingly simple, sweet, and endearing picture books is a testament to his artistic ability. When I read the last words of the text, "I didn't," there were tears!
The emotion with which he writes and draws his childhood is profound. The storyline, told only with drawings and very few words leaves you breathless. The final scenes of the book are about forgiveness. With artistic precision and absolute honesty, the author draws the reader in to what would seem like an unforgivable childhood. Brutally honest and at times unbelievable...
It's stories like his that make me so appreciate my own childhood. It's stories like his that make me so appreciate the men and women who write, draw, and tell their own stories. It's stories like his that haunt me. It's stories like his that make me so happy that he's been able to find enough joy in his spirit to share his illustrations with us in other books.
This is not a book for children. But, if you want to "read" an amazing story, read Stitches. You can read more about the book at: http://stitches.davidsmallbooks.com/
On this site, the book is reviewed in detail and you can read an amazing interview with David Small. When asked what his six-word memoir would be, he replied, "Drawing well is the best revenge."
In the interview he said, "I wrote out almost every scene in Stiches before I drew it. It was the only way I could begin. Only lanugage brings order to the chaos of memory." And the fact that he had the courage to share his story with us is nothing short of heroic. I've been intentionally vague in my description, but this book is well worth the read. Read it. Then look through some of the children's books David Small has illustrated... I have a new found respect for his talents! You will too.