What I'm Reading: April 13

 The Blue Pool of Questions, by Maya Abu-Alhayyat

The Blue Pool of Questions, by Maya Abu-Alhayyat

Me: I don't get allegory.
Patron: ...excuse me?
Me: Ugh, sorry. I'm reading a picture book and I guess it's an allegory and, like, I get it but I don't know if I GET IT, GET IT. You know?
Patron: *looks around for an escape route*
Me: I JUST ALWAYS FEEL LIKE I'M MISSING SOMETHING WHY AM I SO BAD AT READING
Patron: *runs away forever*

So, The Blue Pool of Questions is lovely. Any frustration in this post is directed at myself, not the book.

The Palestinian edition won an illustration award, and it's easy to see why—every spread is different and surprising in terms of layout and color and focus and even style. The images and the words compliment and support one another to such a degree that it's hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that there's a writer and an illustrator and not a writer-illustrator.

If that makes sense. 

(If it doesn't, well, let's blame that on cold meds and my current nemesis, allegory.)

It's a story about a man who is somewhat of an outcast—other people see him as "odd" and think of his songs as "strange" and "old" and "annoying". His books turn "everything into questions" and those questions gather into a pool and at first people ignore it and then it makes them angry and they still try to ignore it but then it becomes impossible to ignore:

 First half of spread from  The Blue Pool of Questions

First half of spread from The Blue Pool of Questions

 Second half of spread from  The Blue Pool of Questions

Second half of spread from The Blue Pool of Questions

It's about—I THINK, DON'T QUOTE ME ON THIS—the importance of questions and questioning; about how asking and pondering and wondering can be scary, but also fulfilling; about how people will not always understand us or each other. And I think maybe it's also about not automatically dismissing old ideas and old ways in favor of newer, faster, shinier? And also also it's about loneliness, and about The Answer—which I read as The Universe/God, but maybe I'm being too literal???—and how The Answer also has endless questions and no concrete answers, but that's okay?

I think my problem is that I want everything to have a cut-and-dry meaning, but that that's just not really how allegory works? If this is even allegory?

UGH I DON'T KNOW THIS IS ALL MUCH TOO ABSTRACT FOR A FRIDAY AFTERNOON.

My personal issues aside, the writing is just as beautiful as the illustrations are, and I've read this book cover to cover at least six times in the last two days. Which says something.