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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This sweet if somewhat insubstantial work by the author of Roxaboxen and The Mountain That Loved a Bird centers around a boy named Pavel who is haunted by a song he hears only in his dreams. With his parents' warning that he must be home by sundown, he sets out to find the melody's source. As he travels over field and meadow, he hears fragments of words and music in the countryside around him and gradually pieces the verses together in sequence. Still seeking the source, the boy is drawn back to his own house, where we hear the complete song--the lullaby his mother sings him as he drops off to sleep each night. Although McLerran's text unfolds with the pleasing, resonant language of a pastoral tale of old, her premise seems too slender to support a whole book. The fairy-tale device of Pavel's mandate to return in a single day is never exploited to full effect, while the boy himself is emblematic rather than a fleshed-out hero. Vasiliev's sun-dappled illustrations, however, radiate Old-World conviviality. His paintings have a unique cast that suggests the faux naive style of some European pottery designs. Singular artistry that compensates for narrative shortcomings. Ages 5-up. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-- In a European folktale-like setting, Pavel leaves his home for a day's journey to find the song he hears only in his dreams and can only recall in fragments. His trip takes him up the river that whispers wistfully a part of the melody. The child continues to search, and hears from the shepherd's flute another piece of the song. Finally, he locates a little cottage next to a small spring. There, an old man strums a verse about the passing of such music from one generation to the next. At home that night, Pavel falls asleep, too tired to hear his mother's lullaby, the same one he has heard on so many nights, and searched for that day. Readers young and old will ask, ``What is this about?'' Parental love that accompanies a child's metaphorical journey through life? The importance of memory? An allegory for the passing of gifts from one generation to another? A happy summertime idyll? Vasiliev's off-balanced figures in yellow and green backgrounds, as if remembered from long ago, reflect the dreamy nature of this ambiguous story. His exquisite paintings depict animals, insects, flowers, and fruit in detail but the humans seem remote. Most children are likely to be impatient to be off on their own adventures rather than to mull over those of Pavel. --Susan Hepler, Alexandria City Public Schools, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780831743574
  • Publisher: Smithmark Publishers, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/15/1994

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