BE STILL, life by Ohara Hale

By Maureen Tai, 4 May 2019

Be still, life, be still
Like fruit in a bowl.
And you might hear the hum
Of a crisp summer’s apple,
Or a pear joining in with a
     Pear kind of babble!
– Ohara Hale

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BE STILL, life 
is a jolt of joyful exuberance.  Seemingly random text, sometimes rhyming, sometimes not. Alphabets of different sizes, sometimes block, sometimes cursive. What unifies the playful and carefree words and the bold and whimsical drawings is the celebration of the simple pleasures of life. Isn’t it fun to look around, to really listen, to really feel, and to just be? Why, now that you mention it, it is!

Ohara is a Montreal-based artist who draws, designs, writes, sings, performs and engages in all sorts of interesting artistic endeavours. It’s no wonder that her writing in BE STILL, life feels like it should have a jingle or a bouncy pop song to accompany it. The (deceptively) simple and happy words positively sing as they dance, skip and twirl across the pages of equally (deceptively) simple and happy pictures. Reminiscent of Japanese cartoon drawings, there are flying fish, snoozing snails, roller-skating turtles, beaming dogs (with wide dog-lips), dancing mice, meditative crickets, smiley ant larvae and industrious honey bees. All drawn in confident pencil strokes and coloured in a limited palette of chalky greens, blues, reds and yellows. The illustrations invite you to look closely, to point out quirky oddities such as the tea-drinking bees, the tiny fishes hiding among the tall grasses, the anatomically-correct beating heart, and a mouse dancing with a cherry balanced on its head, and to generally soak in all the loveliness that life has to offer. A perfect way to start your day happy.

For ages 5 and up.

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