WE (a story about us): Susan T. Landry

Illustrated by Benedetta C. Vialli

It feels like so many people all over the world have become polarized, divided into opposing factions who do not talk to or listen to each other. The recent lockdown has not helped; it has only exacerbated isolation and forced us into our own little bubbles.

In the midst of all the gloom, this beautifully illustrated little book from Susan T. Landry reminds us of the joys of connecting with others.

A poet sits on a park bench. On the ground next to her bench, she finds a scrap of paper from a newspaper forming the word WE. She wants to paste it into a poem but loses it.

As the poet searches for the scrap of paper, some of the passers-by stop to help. Eventually they are no longer strangers but form a little community. The poet helps a schoolgirl write a libretto. The man from the newspaper kiosk brings the poet a cup of tea. And a lady with a briefcase returns to talk to the poet on her way home from work.

The language is lyrical. Landry is a poet and it shows.
“The poet’s eyes are drawn to the soft sheen of burnished wood, made golden by the sun, as the vendor raises a recorder to his lips and releases a stream of notes that carry more of the lovely melody. He does it with such ease and matter-of-factness that she understands at once: she has seen through his disguise. He sells newspapers, chewing gum, and headache tablets out of necessity; he makes music to unfurl his wings.”

On the surface, this is a simple story about a woman on a park bench and the people who talk to her. But on a deeper level, this is about really seeing another, about how a conversation with a stranger, a person about whom you know nothing, can brighten your day.

The book is available from https://www.susantlandry.com/.

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