The world feels completely free when one little girl climbs aboard a swing and suddenly finds herself flying in a world of colors, as though the different hues were a bright galaxy from her imagination. With each pass through the air, the lanky girl with bony ankles experiences a brand new color, until she finally leaps off the swing, soaring effortlessly for what is only a few seconds but feels infinite.
In her first-person narration, the girl invites readers to “Look at me, follow me into the curl of a breeze,” and her entire body seems to become that curl, along with the wispy wings of the bluebirds who have answered her call. Never once does Tricia Tusa’s delightful new picture book Follow Me really come back to earth, and at the end of her flight, the girl twirls (never walks) her way through purple and green until reaching her doorstep.
Tusa, who has illustrated more than 50 books, tips a hat to Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Swing” by allowing a child to slip into unhindered imagination. For someone with light synesthesia (such as myself), who thinks of people and music in colors, Follow Me’s smudgy, earthy palette is particularly satisfying in blurring the connections between colors and objects. The imperfect illustrations feel lovingly hand-done and personal, a look that Tusa achieved through an etching process, pressing one color at a time.
The poetic meanderings of Follow Me capture one little swinging girl as she takes in the colors of the sky, soaring across “that easy sway of blue.” Busy children might want more action in the story, but thoughtful kids will recognize the adventure that comes from a cloud-nine relationship between you and the world around you.