In front of me sit three copies of In the Fiddle Is a Song: A Lift-the-Flap Book of Hidden Potential by author-illustrator, Durga Bernhard. It’s my go-to gift these days. What child doesn’t delight in revealing a surprise by lifting a flap, adding a tactile experience to the aural and visual? Flaps give rise to pauses, to predictions, to slowing down, to savoring.
In this gem of a book, every inch of the spreads is covered by colorful paintings, treating the reader to joyful sights—a swing hanging from an autumn tree, a butterfly unfolding its wings, a freshly cut loaf of warm bread. The 97 words sit directly on the lovely colors, no white space needed.
The word count might seem slight, but the number of different words is even slighter. Every left hand page begins with “In the” and the text hiding under every flap begins with “waiting to.” A pattern to follow is a gift, allowing children to “read” like their grown-ups do, and to engage in lovely language.
This book is out of print—a tragedy! If a reissue isn’t possible, perhaps its poetic lines could be printed on a double spread in an anthology, surrounded by the best of its images—except they’re all the best.
To see the potential in the world, in both nature and human endeavor, helps us live with energy and optimism, a meaningful message for both little listeners and their caregivers.