Review of In Every Life

In Every Life
by Marla Frazee; illus. by the author
Preschool    Beach Lane/Simon    32 pp.
2/23    9781665912488    $18.99
e-book ed.  9781665912495    $10.99

In her latest picture book, Frazee says she “hoped to capture and honor what we all have in common, no matter who we are or where we live.” Each line of text begins with “In every...” and appears on its own spread with Frazee’s signature pencil and gouache vignettes of people, young and old, epitomizing the sentiment expressed (à la her layouts for the similarly inspirational Everywhere Babies, rev. 5/01, and All the World, rev. 9/09). While the text is earnest, Frazee finds ways to insert light humor into her illustrations, such as a child using the potty for “In every hope, blessed is the doing.” Wordless full-bleed spreads are interspersed between the vignette pages, showing wide landscape views with people finding peace and joy in nature; these offer viewers a chance to pause and reflect on that line’s meaning. She also chooses a predominant color for each line’s font and its accompanying art to aid young listeners in linking them together (e.g., yellow is the color associated with the line “In every smile, blessed is the light”). The affectionate domestic scenes feature a diverse mix of people and are a visual testament to Frazee’s inclusive goal of showcasing the commonalities “in every life.” According to her author’s note, she’s revised a baby-naming blessing that she attributes to the Jewish faith (the original source of which is unknown, “but it has been adapted and used widely in welcoming ceremonies of all kinds”) by simplifying the poem and adding her own lines, including passages about smiles and sadness.

From the January/February 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Cynthia K. Ritter
Cynthia K. Ritter

Cynthia K. Ritter is managing editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She earned a master's degree in children's literature from Simmons University. She served on the 2019 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award committee.

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