The Van Gogh Cafe by Cynthia Rylant is printed on creamy textured paper that may or may not have made me like it better than I normally would have. I may or may not be guilty of caressing the pages of this hardback edition. However, I will try to put its wonderful aesthetics aside and give this little volume a fair shake.
On the inside front cover: "Magic things happen at the Van Gogh Cafe in Flowers, Kansas, and no one quite knows why. Clara is one reason for the magic. She's ten and believes anything might happen. She and her father own the cafe, so they know all about its mysteries. Each day they turn up the phonograph, fill coffee cups for the sleepy morning people - and wait for the magic to happen. It always does."
I remember being ten and wishing for magic, trying to convince myself that little people dwelt in our trees, or that animals might talk, so this book captures that magic well, and it also captures the magic of human connectedness - that we need one another.
Each chapter ends with a lead into the next magic. There is one chapter that I loved. It is about a man who comes to the cafe saying that he is there to meet someone. Back in his day, the cafe was a theater, so of course the magic of the many plays still reside in its walls. He shows them a picture of a beautiful man - the love of his life - from when they were in their twenties. Rylant shows one example of the LGBT lifestyle with beautiful words and feelings. I felt the love the older gentleman had for his lost love. I want my children to know that there are all types of families and to approach each with love and respect.
Other chapters show how an animal in a tree causes the people in the cafe to reach out to all the animals in the town, which in turn help a man suffering from depression after the death of his wife to go back home and find a new passion in helping injured animals. In her work, Rylant often shows the importance of animals in our lives.
I enjoyed this magical little book with printed on wonderful textured paper.
Read to a child today even if that child is you.