Children's LiteratureThe 'jubilee' celebrated in this book appears at first glance to be an old-fashioned, all-American picnic attended by multicultural guests: "They'll have corn on the cob and barbecue, they'll have salt potatoes and clams...soda pop, cold and fizzy, and ice cream..." The food is classic American fare, the faces of the partygoers are Asian, Caucasian, African American and Latino, yet their activities are all-American too: "It's kids against grown-ups as baseballs pop-fly..." and "with fiddles and harps and banjos and spoons...they'll two-step and shuffle, they'll clog and they'll jig..." If 'jubilee' naturally brings to mind a celebration, often a 25th or 50th anniversary party, it is useful to remember that the word also has religious roots in both Jewish history and the Roman Catholic Church. For the front jacket copy tells you that the real subject of this jubilee is the author's "vision of heaven." The text offers subtle clues at the beginning and at the end that its real subject is more than just a picnic, and the illustrations underscore the more serious theme in an equally gentle manner. Brown, gray and dark green illustrations at the start lead away from a lonely forest to the warmer colors of the picnic and the text reads, "they've waited so long all glad to be gatheredjubilee." The larger theme is also stated in the final line, "all joy is to bejubilee," and a boy is pictured waving and running out of the dreary forest toward the party's vivid yellows, greens and reds. 2004, Eerdmans Books For Young Readers, Ages 4 to 8.
J. H. Diehl