Some artworks have the power of imagination that make the world a warmer and pure place to live. South Korean picture book artist Baek Hee-na, the winner of the 2020 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, shows a great example in her illustration books.
Since her debut with “Cloud Bread,” Baek has presented readers with pure childhood innocence in “Moon Sherbet,” “The Strange Mum,” “Magic Candies” and “I am a Dog.” She magically depicts sherbet made from yellowish water melting out of the moon, a fairy taking care of a child instead of his working mom and magic candies that help read people’s mind. “Cloud Bread” is the best story of her collection, where two children carefully bring down clouds hanging on the branch of a tree to ask their mom to bake cloud bread. The mom does them a favor even though she could instead tell them that bread is made from flour, not from clouds. Making dough into small circles, she puts it in the oven. Then, the three of them enjoy delicately baked cloud bread around the table. Feeling bad that their dad skips breakfast being late to work, the children deliver the cloud bread to him in the commuter bus. Eating the cloud-turned-bread makes it possible for them to fly and flow just like clouds in the skies.
Young children will soon come to know that they cannot make bread from clouds. They will know there is no such thing as a fairy down from the skies, sherbet from the melting moon and candies with magical power. Nevertheless, the world built upon imagination does not fall apart afterward. Lingering on their mind, it will someday give children the power to see things from a pure, warmhearted and generous view. Grown-ups need such an imaginary world in their mind as well. They may be in greater need of such imagination than children as they are more likely to get numb and lose their sense of purity and warmth in tiring and world-weary life. That is why grown-ups can get some consolation and relaxation from Baek Hee-na’s picture books illustrating magic candies, cloud bread and a fairy.