April 9 – Cherish an Antique Day

Once Upon a Memory by Nina Laden and Renata Liwska Picture Book Reivew

About the Holiday

When you look at an antique chair with its faded upholstery or a brooch handed down from your great-great-grandmother, do you ever think about the day when it was new? Imagine the excitement of sitting in the chair for the first time or opening the jewelry box on a shining pin. Today we remember our collective and individual treasured past, held in the objects of days gone by. Cherish an Antique Day is a perfect time to learn more about the stories of any antiques you may own.

Once Upon a Memory

Written by Nina Laden | Illustrated by Renata Liwska


This stunning, quiet book is so evocative in its premise that certain lines can bring a lump to your throat even before you reach the endearing end. A little boy sits in his playroom surrounded by his stuffed toys and pet dog, enjoying a tea party. A feather blows through the window, eliciting the question, “Does a feather remember it once was…a bird?” and then more musings: “Does a book remember it once was…a word?”

The simple patterned phrasing and rhyming couplets lend the story a surprising suspense as the reader tries to guess what one-time material or emotion transformed into another before the clever answer is revealed: “Does a statue remember it once was…stone? Does an island remember it once was…unknown?”

In the last pages the queries become more personal—“Does love remember it once was…new? Does a family remember it once was…two?” Adult readers will recognize where the reflective path leads, giving this book a deeper level of meaning for both adults and children: “Does the world remember it once was…wild? Will you remember you once were…a child?”

The question is not an idle one. In these busy, stressful times it’s good to remember what it meant—and means—to be a child.

Nina Laden’s subtly anthropomorphic world invites readers into a new realm of imagination as well as reality. Readers and listeners receive a new perspective on life as Laden’s poetic voice opens up a wide world of possibilities.

Renata Liwska’s illustrations are simply adorable and represent each couplet with depth and imagination. The feather that blows in the little boy’s window comes not from some single, random bird, but from a happy barber shop where an owl is getting a haircut. “Book” is both the volume lovingly read by the boy and the word painted on a busy bookshop sign. Liwska’s sweet bears, squirrels, beavers, birds, raccoons, bats and more as well as the tiny boy are rendered in gauzy browns, grays, reds, and yellows that are as soft and comforting as a favorite memory.  Once Upon a Memory would be a perfect companion on a walk, a trip, or during times of waiting, where readers and listeners could make up their own “once was” pairs. Its cadence also makes it a nice, comforting bedtime book.

Ages 4 – 7

Little Brown and Company, 2013 | ISBN 978-0316208161

Cherish an Antique Day Activity

CPB - Antique Day

Share the Stories of Your Antiques


Whether you have old photographs of great-great-grandparents or special heirlooms, today’s holiday is a wonderful time to share them and the stories behind them with children. The feeling of being part of several generations or holding history in your hands is exciting and comforting and can lead to more understanding and closer relationships.

Adults can collect a few family heirlooms and/or photographs to share with children. Children can choose which of their toys, books, or other favorite objects they think will last to become a cherished antique in the future.

Take time to get together and discuss the objects you’ve collected with a cup of tea or hot chocolate and some special treats.

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