THE STORY BEHIND LISTEN
On September 3, 2019, my new picture-book collaboration with Pascal Lemaitre will be published, and I am so happy to share the story of how the book came to be, and a little bit about what the book means to me and Pascal.
“It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.”
—Vincent Van Gogh
At the Rizzoli launch party in New York City for Pascal Lemaitre’s and my collaboration Come with Me in 2017, Matt Dillon joined us on stage to talk about Pascal’s mother-in-law, Yvette Pierpaoli, a humanitarian who devoted her life to refugees. Matt had been close friends with Yvette, and that night, Matt said, “Her eyes were as big as her ears.”
I wrote down those words, because they felt huge to me. Just the idea that you can hear with your eyes, that we all can do that, resonated powerfully with me. And as I thought more about those words over the next months, I began to see that not only can we listen with our ears and eyes, but we can listen with all of our senses—we can take in the sound of our own feet, the smell of the air, the taste and sharing of the food we eat, and the earth in our hands . . .
And we can listen with our hearts, too.
It was Antoine de Saint-Exupery, in The Little Prince, who said, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Pascal paid homage to Vincent Van Gogh as he colored this book; Van Gogh was always in a quest for light, outside light and inner light, and Pascal was inspired by not only Japanese prints beloved by Van Gogh, but also by fields of sunflowers near Yvette’s home in the South of France . . . sunflowers were beloved by Van Gogh, too.
Listen is a story about love, about the earth, about how we are all connected, like trees through their roots . . . and Pascal and I hope that our youngest readers can discover how it feels to listen and act from the very center of their hearts, and by doing so, find joy in each other and the natural world, too.
With much love,
Holly & Pascal