It is rare to find a book that can be enjoyed by both children and adults, but Girls Standing on Lawns is just such a masterpiece. It is simple and overwhelming with each turn of the page. It is rare that I am moved by books that might equally appeal to the younger human species, but this book touched me.
Girls Standing on Lawns by Daniel Handler (Author), Maira Kalman (Illustrator) is a walk down memory lane with a look to the future. New York Times bestselling writer Daniel Handler, otherwise known as Lemony Snicket, sprinkles little snippets of his thoughts next to the photographs of girls standing on lawns. From those old-fashioned bathing suit snapshots in front of a house, to a pouty-frowned adolescent girl longing for the photo to just be done with, the words jump off the page. As the reader you’re having the same thoughts run through your head as you read each word.
Mixed in with the compilation of photographs is the mirroring artwork of artist Maira Kalman. She is a collector of old photographs and took this project to the Modern Museum of Art and this book is a perfect extension of the quality that is MoMA. Her drawings are bold in color, quite the contrast of the muted brownish-grey old photographs. Some of her designs are identical in nature to what is framed in the black and white snapshot on the opposite page, and then others she goes beyond what is seen in the still photographs and her imagination provides the reader with a fresh idea of what a girl on the lawn might look like framed in a painting rather than captured in the frame of a picture.
Since acquiring this book, I’ve shown it to numerous girlfriends and female relatives and the reaction has been consistently the same. It starts with reminiscing about photos of when we were younger and then the conversation blossoms into something else. There is a stanza in the book that reads,
We believe this, there is nothing
else we believe more at
this moment, that we should
be standing here.
Of all the text throughout the book, that seems to say it all. Girls Standing on Lawns is a beautiful piece of art and makes for a great gift, whether it’s something you pick up for yourself or for someone special in your life.