All Things Bright and Beautiful

( 1 )


Armed only with gloriously hued colored paper and his mother's embroidery scissors, renowed artist Ashley Bryan captures the mightiest whales and the most delicate blossoms, pearls of grapes, and grins of children in this homage to Cecil F. Alexander's beloved hymn, which is perfromed by choirs around the world.

An illustrated version of the well-known hymn, which describes the marvels of God's creation.

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Armed only with gloriously hued colored paper and his mother's embroidery scissors, renowed artist Ashley Bryan captures the mightiest whales and the most delicate blossoms, pearls of grapes, and grins of children in this homage to Cecil F. Alexander's beloved hymn, which is perfromed by choirs around the world.

An illustrated version of the well-known hymn, which describes the marvels of God's creation.

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Editorial Reviews

Jeanette Hardage
... colorful, whimsical, bushy-haired people and angels... docile animals... —Christianity and the Arts
Pam Woegandt
... beautifully illustrated, profoundly told and would be a joy to read to a beloved child. —Southwestern Episcopalian
Publishers Weekly
"Alexander's beloved 1848 ode to the natural wonders of God's creation receives a fresh treatment via Vojtech's expansive watercolor paintings in this handsome, square-format book," PW wrote. Ages 3-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
From sun-colored endpapers to glowing watercolors, following two children and a dog through landscapes of meadows and mountains, summer and winter, night and day, this is indeed a bright and beautiful journey. The pictures illustrate the familiar hymn written by Mrs. Alexander, wife of a bishop of the establishment Church of Ireland, and meant to explain to children the first statement of the Apostle's Creed. The more one learns about its circumstances, the more ironic seems its message. Celebrating the beauty of earth's creatures and seasons with sublime faith, it appeared in the momentous year of 1848 when Ireland was in the grip of the Great Famine and Europe was writhing in the throes of revolution. One stanza, omitted here, asserted: "The rich man in his castle, / the poor man at his gate, / God made them high and lowly / And ordered their estate." Many starving and suffering children must have been far removed from such a serene expression of a sunny, well-ordered universe. Well, it was intended for a select audience of another day and if we can delete that stanza and concentrate on the creatures (curving dragonflies, a scarlet cardinal, a kingfisher with its catch) and the wonders of nature (brilliant sunflowers, plump strawberries, "purple-headed mountains"), we can appreciate Czech-born painter Vojtech's lavish depiction of "all things wise and wonderful" and allow parents to decide whether to ignore or emphasize the doctrinal message. Children can revel in the lush details and wait until later to investigate the history. 2004, North-South, Ages 3 to 8.
—Barbara L. Talcroft
School Library Journal
Gr 1 Up-- All the verses to Alexander's familiar hymn are illustrated by Heyer's drawings. Her use of felt-tipped pens makes for richly colored illustrations, but they do little to the expand the meaning of the words. There seems to be no unified theme or mood to them--``the sunset and the morning/ That brightens up the sky'' is accompanied by penguins and a pink/purple/blue skyline; the next line ``The cold wind in the winter,/ The pleasant summer sun'' is illustrated by howling wolves and a desert landscape. The purpose of a single illustrated volume of any familiar poem would seem to be to explore the layers of that work, and not to provide a convenient vehicle for an illustrator's talent. Alexander's words are better served by listening to the hymn itself. --Kathleen Whalin, Belfast Public Library, ME
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-While there are other lovely illustrated versions of this 19th-century song, Vojtech's glorious edition is a worthy choice. The familiar words are brought to life in spreads that include two pictures, one framed inside the other. The outer picture is less a border than an enhancement of the inner image. For example, the first pages show a girl and a boy looking out over a field filled with a variety of animals, and close-ups of the creatures are scattered around the outer frame. For "All things wise and wonderful,/the Lord God made them all," the larger painting shows a family of swans swimming in a pond where frogs gamble and large dragonflies flit about. The outer image flows beyond the water to the woods and sky nearby. Viewers' eyes are drawn back and forth between the two scenes, following a turtle's path across a branch and the dragonfly's tail bursting out of the frame. The watercolors are fresh and richly drawn with fine details such as the veins on a lady slipper and the whiskers of a mouse. The book concludes with stargazing children and fireflies sparkling in the night sky. A wonderful addition that readers will return to again and again.-Bina Williams, Bridgeport Public Library, CT Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Bright and beautiful watercolor illustrations and a large format with a thoughtful design combine to bring new life to the old words of this familiar hymn written in 1848. The rhyming text attributes everything under the sun to God's creation, from "all creatures great and small" to the tallest mountain, and from the general (the wind, the seasons) to the specific (each little bird and each ripe fruit). The cheerful illustrations on double-page spreads contain a central panel that specifically illustrates the relevant text surrounded by a large border that includes related flowers, trees, and wildlife. A sister and brother pair and their spotted dog are shown in each central panel, while a pair of mice provides a continuous thread in the borders throughout. The large, luminous illustrations make this an ideal choice for reading aloud to a group, and the short, simple text could also be sung, though the music for the hymn is not included. (Picture book/nonfiction. 3-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060266172
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/28/2001
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 241,886
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.32 (d)

Meet the Author

Cecil Frances Alexander was born in Ireland. She began writing poetry as a child and wrote nearly 400 hymns. She wrote All things Bright and Beautiful, one of her most popular, to help explain to children the opening words of the Apostles' Creed, a Christian statement of belief. The wife of an archbishop, she was known to be a generous woman who cared for the poor and opened a school for the deaf with her sister.

Bruce Whatley  is one of Australia's most highly regarded and talented authors and illustrators for children, both here and internationally. Bruce started his working life in advertising as an art director and illustrator and since then he has created over 60 picture books.  Many of his books have won awards both in Australia and overseas, including The Ugliest Dog in the World, Looking for Crabs, Tails from Grandad’s Attic and Detective Donut and the Wild Goose Chase

Bruce has co-written a number of award-winning books with his wife Rosie Smith (Whatley’s Quest, Detective Donut and the Wild Goose Chase and Little White Dogs Can’t Jump) and his son Ben Smith Whatley (Zoobots).

In 2002 Bruce paired with author Jackie French and illustrated Diary of a Wombat – an iconic picture book that has become an international best-seller with foreign sales to nine territories.  Diary of Wombat was the start of an extraordinary artistic collaboration that sparked the publication of Pete the Sheep, Josephine Wants to Dance, Shaggy Gully Times, Baby Wombat’s Week, Christmas Wombat and Wombat Goes to School. Plus two delightful books about Queen Victoria, being Queen Victoria’s Underpants and Queen Victoria’s Christmas.

 One of the most remarkable aspects of Bruce’s talent is the breadth of his artistic ability, which includes an appealing cartoon style to realistic representations using mediums ranging from coloured pencils, watercolour, acrylic and oils, and more recently, 3D digital software. 

And accompanying that talent is an intellectual depth and curiosity that sees Bruce taking on large and complex projects, such as The Beach They Called Gallipoli, which is being co-created with Jackie French and will be published in 2014 to coincide with the centenary of WW1.

In 2008 Bruce completed his PhD titled Left Hand Right Hand: implications of ambidextrous image making. In his thesis Bruce looked at the image making of the non-dominant hand, making the fascinating discovery that in most people the ability to draw lies in the use of the ‘other’ hand.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 1 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2013


    I hate this book its horribale dont waste your money

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2012


    Write a reveiw about this book and you can go to new york

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2009

    Beautiful book!

    This is an engaging and beautifully illustrated book set to a classic hymn. My three year old loves it!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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