1957 was a great year for picnics. That’s when Marc Simont, illustrator of A Tree Is Nice, by Janice May Udry won a Caldecott medal for “distinguished American picture book” for children. With its lovingly simple renderings and sparse text, that precious book was one of my favorites. And still is.
“Trees are very nice. They fill up the sky.”
A Tree Is Nice leads us outdoors and back to a wonderfully simple time, when days followed the ways of bread rising. A boy plants a spring sapling. Kids climb and hang from low branches. The joys of a long loping swing, crisp red apples and bonfires.
And picnics. I used to love to gaze at this picture, for all the peace and togetherness it promoted. “People have picnics there too. And the baby takes his nap in the shade.” Actually, if you look closely, baby is not the only one napping. Brother sleeps in the crook of a branch, father dozes against the trunk, and grandmother sleeps upright in her chair.
I want to jump in this picture. I want to put the newspaper over my face and snore loudly.
I want to take more picnics with the people I love.