An artful picture book exploration of negative space and the beauty of nothingness. This mindful meditation encourages children to see the world differently.
Nothing is really something! What might be hidden in the space around things, and how is that space important? In art, this is known as negative space, but “nothing” can be thought of more broadly—as free time during the day or the space between people. When we allow ourselves a moment of nothingness, we make room for creativity and so much more.
Elizabeth Rusch is the author of more than two dozen award-winning children’s books, including A Day with No Crayons, The Music of Life, Zee Grows a Tree, Volcano Rising, and Mario and the Hole in the Sky, winner of the AAAS/Subaru Prize for Excellence in Science Books, the Green Earth Book Award, the Cook Prize, and the Golden Kite Award.
Elizabeth Goss is an illustrator, author, and papercutter. Her picture book My Way West: Real Kids Traveling the Oregon and California Trails won the Paterson Prize for Books for Young People. A proud member of the Guild of American Papercutters, Elizabeth teaches art workshops across the Pacific Northwest and loves welcoming students of all ages into the world of papercutting.
Rusch’s thought-provoking text begins: “Nothing is the space around and between everything.” The presence of nothing, cued by plain white areas in the cut-paper illustrations, appears first as physical space: the gap where a tooth once sat, the expanse between stars in the sky, the space for a missing puzzle piece. Important, too, is nothing as temporal space: the moment before a leap of faith or a bit of spare time in one’s day. Even in music, room for nothing fosters beauty: “For what is a song without some silence?” There can be, of course, too much or too little of nothing. On these spreads in particular, Goss’s use of color and space makes a strong emotional impact: a queasy-green child sandwiched between tightly packed adults in a crowd finds “too little” of nothing, while a blue-hued child sulks surrounded by “too much” of nothing amid a stark white double-page spread. Wherever nothing is found, there is space for something to unfurl. Goss’s intricate illustrations visually articulate the importance of nothing, or negative space, as discussed in the back matter. A striking call for young children and aspiring artists alike, the story sets out to prove that “nothing” matters, after all.
—The Horn Book