Like The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy and The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Unwinding lives in a category that includes children’s literature and goes beyond it. Unlike those two books, though, it conveys a distinctively feminine quality in the archetypal sense of that word: an experience of intimacy, receptivity, quiet but fierce courage, curiosity, nature appreciation, nighttime, heart, and mystery.
You can open the book to any page and dive in. Author and illustrator Jackie Morris even encourages such unconventional behavior, writing in her introduction, “This book is not meant to be read from cover to cover. … Slight of word, rich of image, its purpose is to ease the soul.” Her soulful watercolor images have been developed over years and upon them she lays words, but the pictures remain exquisite stand-alone meditations.
Through short chapters with titles like “Myth: The Midnight Fish,” “Shelter: The Company of Wolves,” and “Hope: Out from the Woods,” Morris carries us into quests meant to help children and adults alike to unwind from daily stresses by entering a world between waking and sleep, inhabited by humans who yearn to know their wild kin and be known in return. For instance, in the chapter called “Shape,” a woman asks a bear questions about his dreams, like:
“Can you guide your dreaming?
can you move your dreams along
pathways of desire?”
And when the bear asks why she wishes to know these things, she replies:
“To better understand the geography of
my heart; how it fits with the pattern of
This book invites dreams. Morris advises that we “take one story last thing at night before bed” and that “extra stories may be taken during times of stress. There is no danger of overdose.”
One of the best parts of The Unwinding is that readers made it possible. In the back is a 20-page index of crowdfund contributors who thought this book worthy to be shared. How wholeheartedly we agree with them!