Like many good picturebooks, Alive Again by Ahmadreza Ahmadi can be read on many levels. On the one hand, it is a reassuring story about the cycle of life told in a straightforward manner. It encourages us to put our trust in nature and to believe that things can be reborn: the wheat dies but then the rain comes and the wheat grows again. The world renews itself.
On another level, it is a philosophical book about language: ‘When there is no rain, does the word “rain” die, so that it can never rain again?’ Such brain teasers could be enjoyed by older children and adults, as well as young readers. More than anything else, Alive Again is a quiet reflection on the wonder of the everyday: ‘Rain came, raining all night, / So that the word “rain” was born again.’ The illustrations by Iranian artist Nahid Kazemi are beautiful. The mix of line drawings and collage gives the book texture as well as colour. The collage features pieces of tweedy fabric in colours ranging from oatmeal to cherry red. The pages themselves are the colour of brown sugar and some words are also in colour where the author wanted to add emphasis. Full marks to publisher Tiny Owl for giving us a chance to experience such fine work. I was very interested to read the short biography of Ahmadreza Ahmadi, though I was puzzled to find that there was no corresponding biography for the illustrator, Nahid Kazemi. This is a wonderful picturebook and one that will resonate with readers when other books are long forgotten.