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Sailor Song
     

Sailor Song

by Stefano Vitale (Illustrator), Nancy Jewell Geller
 

As a mother tucks her young child into bed, she sings him a dreamy story of a sailor on his way home from the sea. It's a song of the ocean, but also of a wood, a field, and even a snug little country house. Luminous nighttime illustrations depict the sailor's journey from ocean to wood to field until he arrives at the very same bedroom where the child is waiting.

Overview

As a mother tucks her young child into bed, she sings him a dreamy story of a sailor on his way home from the sea. It's a song of the ocean, but also of a wood, a field, and even a snug little country house. Luminous nighttime illustrations depict the sailor's journey from ocean to wood to field until he arrives at the very same bedroom where the child is waiting. The lilting rhythm of a mother's song and her child's response, coupled with Stefano Vitale's distinctive oil paintings on wood, creates a magical book perfect for bedtime.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"small gem of a picture book...The idea seems simple, but the interplay between text and pictures is adroit and simply beautiful." Horn Book Guide

A modest lullaby sung by a mother to her child at bedtime, telling of a fisherman returning home after a long sojourn at sea. His boat doesn't just sail into harbor; it floats through forests and over fields, climbs stony paths, and soars across the night sky. When the sailor comes through the door, it's clear he's returning to the family, evoked from the mists by the mother's singing. Vitale's artwork on wood characteristically fuses various styles for images of the little family at home and the seafarer on his journey.
Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"Listen, my love,/ and I'll sing you a song./ I'll sing you a song of the sea," says the sailor's wife to her child at bedtime. A series of images follows, describing a sailor's trip home from the ocean, through woods and grassy field, to a country house and up the stairs into the child's waiting arms. Jewell's poetic text is comprised of lilting rhythms that echo the "waves lapping/ in the night" and illuminate the "watery moon-path/ clear and bright" of the sailor "who's been/ a long time away/ now sailing his boat/ toward shore." However, the child's refrain after each stanza--"Mama, Mama,/ sing me some more"--disrupts the lovely cadence and progression of the ballad. Vitale saturates wooden panels with oils of ocean blue and sunset tangerine that seem to undulate from shore or horizon. His inventive designs depict the reflected light of the moon on shimmering water, the stars sprinkling the nightscape like snow and fireflies dancing atop a field of flowers. But the conceit of having the sailor's ship represent the sailor himself seems unnecessarily confusing, especially when readers see not the sailor but the bow of the ship ascending the stairway to the child's bedroom. The stylized wooden stares of the characters constrain rather than enhance the warmth of the text. Those who admired the sweet simplicity and felicitous combination of art and text in Jewell and Vitale's Christmas Lullaby may find this bedtime book less successful. Ages 3-6. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Carol Lynch
There could never be too many quality bedtime books, and Sailor Song has the potential to become as well-loved as Goodnight Moon. In rhythmic language that flows effortlessly, a mother tells her child of the journey a sailor makes to get to his faraway home. The verses are accompanied by illustrations created with oil paint on wooden panels. This unusual technique draws the natural grain of the wood into the picture, creating clouds, sand dunes, shadows, ripples, and sunsets. Both the lullaby and the story end with the father's return. From its simple cover to the tie-dye effects of the endpages, this book guarantees a peaceful experience.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1-"Listen, my love,/and I'll sing you a song./I'll sing you a song of the sea...." So begins this tender lullaby of a sailor's journey home across waves and woods, hills and fields to his snug house and waiting family. Jewell's language is sonorous, evoking soothing images of a sleeping world. The mellifluous refrain "Mama, Mama,/sing me some more" follows each of the first few verses as the man travels on. Oil paintings on wood in radiant colors complement the text perfectly. The grain in the wood becomes the swirling of water, the play of clouds on sky. Children will be lulled by the lilting rhythm as they follow the voyager's boat sailing across the pages as it gets closer and closer to home. A lovely combination of language and artistry, best suited for one-on-one sharing.-Carolyn Stacey, Jefferson County Public Library, Golden, CO Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Horn Book Magazine
Successful bedtime books have many elements in common: a repetitive text, a soothing tone, leisurely pacing, and a concept suited to the youngest listeners. In this small gem of a picture book, text and illustrations are synchronized in an imaginative lullaby that demonstrates just how effectively these elements can be employed. The result is understated artistry, opening with a mother urging her child to "listen, my love, / and I'll sing you a song. / I'll sing you a song of the sea." As the song continues, it becomes apparent that this is the story of a journey, of a sailor wending his way to "a snug little country house"-where the mother and child are waiting. Vitale's visuals, employing oils on wood, are rich and mysterious, like night itself. Yet they are never threatening; rather they are the stuff of dreams. The texture of the wood panels captures the sense of movement in sea and sky. The ship sailing over water and land and into the house is a childlike interpretation of events, reflecting the mood of the text. The idea seems simple, but the interplay between text and pictures is adroit-and simply beautiful.
Kirkus Reviews
Sailor Song (32 pp.; Mar. 22; 0-395-82511-3): A modest lullaby sung by a mother to her child at bedtime, telling of a fisherman returning home after a long sojourn at sea. His boat doesn't just sail into harbor; it floats through forests and over fields, climbs stony paths, and soars across the night sky. When the sailor comes through the door, it's clear he's returning to the family, evoked from the mists by the mother's singing. Vitale's artwork on wood characteristically fuses various styles for images of the little family at home and the seafarer on his journey. (Picture book. 3-6) .

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780395825112
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
03/28/1999
Edition description:
None
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
7.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.13(d)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"small gem of a picture book...The idea seems simple, but the interplay between text and pictures is adroit and simply beautiful." Horn Book Guide

A modest lullaby sung by a mother to her child at bedtime, telling of a fisherman returning home after a long sojourn at sea. His boat doesn't just sail into harbor; it floats through forests and over fields, climbs stony paths, and soars across the night sky. When the sailor comes through the door, it's clear he's returning to the family, evoked from the mists by the mother's singing. Vitale's artwork on wood characteristically fuses various styles for images of the little family at home and the seafarer on his journey.
Kirkus Reviews

Meet the Author

Stefano Vitale grew up in Italy and studied in Venice and Verona before coming to the U.S. His work has appeared in national magazines and many works for children. He lives in New York.

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