Review of Before, Now

Before, Now Before, Now
by Daniel Salmieri; illus. by the author
Primary    Rocky Pond/Penguin    48 pp.
6/23    9780593461976    $19.99
e-book ed.  9780593461983    $10.99

Salmieri delivers a moving intergenerational story using opposites as its central conceit. Opening pages show a view of Earth from space, reading: “In the dark sky floats a bright planet.” The page-turn zooms in on a seashore “where wet waves crash on a dry stretch of beach.” Next, there’s a city, whose characters are rendered in colored pencil with a sketchy, gestural style. These include “a small person in a big chair,” the protagonist of the story. She is a toddler who appears Asian, with dark hair and peachy-tan skin. Salmieri wisely gives the character signature green clothing, a color symbolic of growth, so that readers can recognize her as she changes throughout the book, from child to teen to professional scientist and woman with a family of her own, all the while incorporating opposites that reflect her interests and experiences (“a loud concert in a quiet field…thick books made up on thin sheets of paper”). At the end, the green-clad woman, her dark hair now white, is shown with a baby in her lap, looking at “an old photo in a new frame / [that] Shows a picture of a small person in a big chair.” It’s an immensely satisfying, full-circle conclusion.

From the July/August 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Megan Dowd Lambert
Megan Dowd Lambert

Megan Dowd Lambert created the Whole Book Approach storytime model in association with The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and is a former lecturer in children’s literature at Simmons University, where she also earned her MA. In addition to ongoing work as a children’s book author, reviewer, and consultant, Megan is president of Modern Memoirs, Inc., a private publishing company specializing in personal and family histories. 

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.