Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Power of the Picture Book: Joseph Kuefler

I only spend 48 waking hours per week with my children. And I’m one of the lucky ones—I don’t need to work a second or third job to keep the lights on and fridge stuffed like so many today.

That we have constructed a system so purpose-built for productivity and undermining of the goodness of family time is one of the first world’s great ironies.

If you’re like me, you wake each morning wondering whether today will be the day you discover a loophole in the system or receive that unexpected call from your estranged and aloof great-second-aunt’s estate manager informing you of her untimely death and of your bountiful inheritance. If you’re like me, you’re looking for any chance to press pause and turn one of those 48 hours into a week’s worth of time. Because life doesn’t stop. For anyone. Ever.

While I can’t promise to locate and coerce that great-second-aunt of yours, I have found a pause button, of sorts: picture books.

Picture books are a breath amid the suffocation of life. They’re a goodnight kiss. And a let me tuck you in. Picture books are a giggle and a cry and a what does that mean, daddy? They’re every moment—be it extraordinary or everyday—the pages between their covers inspire in our children and in us as parents. Picture books are our familial communion; that is their power.

In a world awash with contention, negativity, derision, and tension, especially following recent events, I am so grateful for that power.

So the next time the race of daily life has left you and your family worn and ragged, the next time you find yourself fighting like hell to turn one of those minutes or hours into a lifetime, open a picture book and press pause. 


Joseph Kuefler is a Twin Cities-based picture book maker. He is the author and illustrator of BEYOND THE POND and the forthcoming RULERS OF THE PLAYGROUND, which hits shelves April 18, 2017, both published by Balzer + Bray.