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Turn! Turn! Turn!

Turn! Turn! Turn!

by Pete Seeger, Wendy Anderson Halperin (Illustrator)
For thousands of years, Ecclesiastes' beautiful words have inspired and given solace to people all over the world.

Pete Seeger was so moved by these words that he set the poem to music and added a refrain and a line of his own. "Turn! Turn! Turn" was recorded in 1962 by the Byrds. You can still hear the song on the radio today -- more than forty years


For thousands of years, Ecclesiastes' beautiful words have inspired and given solace to people all over the world.

Pete Seeger was so moved by these words that he set the poem to music and added a refrain and a line of his own. "Turn! Turn! Turn" was recorded in 1962 by the Byrds. You can still hear the song on the radio today -- more than forty years later.

Now Wendy Anderson Halperin lends her talent and artistic vision to the famous song, creating a book like no other. Wendy's art invites you to turn, turn, turn the pages and investigate all the different ways people live and laugh, love and mourn, and the ways in which war and peace affect humanity.

It's your turn now, to read the words of Ecclesiastes, listen to Pete Seeger's music, gaze at Wendy Anderson Halperin's illustrations, and contemplate what being human is all about.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
An illustration of the earth (before the title page) serves as backdrop to the complete text of the King James version of the titular passage, with Seeger's refrain ("Turn! Turn! Turn") encircling the globe. On the first page, the opening lines ("To everything turn, turn, turn there is a season turn, turn, turn/ and a time for every purpose under heaven") form a circular frame around an open door, through which readers view a grassy plain. Each spread that follows features a giant circle divided in half along the center crease, and arranged in a way that encourages readers to literally turn the book; pictures on the left illustrate the first half of the phrase ("a time to plant"), on the right, the second ("a time to reap"). Each semicircle contains numerous smaller illustrations that correspond to a mirror image. For example, a squirrel buries a nut in summer, then finds it in winter; a woman writes a manuscript, then signs copies of her finished book. Some of the images are disturbing (for "a time of hate," someone kicks a dog, and a boy holds a gun), but Halperin (The Secret Remedy Book) balances these with enough humor and childlike vignettes elsewhere to keep youngsters engaged (for "a time to build up/ a time to break down," bookend paintings show children building a snowman and, the snowman after it has melted). A compact disc containing both Seeger's original song and The Byrds' rendition (tucked into a pocket on the back cover) complements the circle motif. This attractive volume provides a lovely introduction to a timeless verse and a beloved song for a new generation of children, and invites deeper consideration for those already familiar with both. All ages. (Sept) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
The words of Ecclesiastes have inspired many for thousands of years and here are set forth with Halperin's detailed watercolors depicting a vast array of people, settings, and human experiences. While Leo and Diane Dillon's illustrations ((Blue Sky Press, 1998) relied on a variety of artistic styles, readers may prefer or at least compare the artistic unity of this to the Dillons' stunning presentation. Older readers will be familiar with the The Byrds' 1965 recording set to music by Pete Seeger and visual references to Seeger, his banjo, and his worldview, are found throughout the pictures. Each couplet is illustrated by a double-page circle divided into various odd segments that depict the paired ideas in worldwide settings. In "A time to plant/a time to reap," for example, the vignettes show a hay truck, a tropical market, a family planting, rice workers in a paddy, and centered, a pair of pictures of a squirrel burying an acorn in summer and eating it in winter. Also are some demonstrators, perhaps farm workers, approaching the Capitol, and two of writers and readers, as if implying that you can plant and harvest ideas as well. The pages depicting "a time to rend," a time to hate," and "a time to kill" feature child-understandable pictures of smashed eggs, yelling people, animals hunting, discarded trash, empty factories, funerals, and lands of war, but the other half depict at least some of the events in the pictures mended, sewn, healed, or loved. But some things are never healed—a part of the circle of life. Music, singing, hands embracing or working, accompany contemporary, but timeless references to joblessness, homelessness, and grief. It is a book to inspire readers andfamilies to talk about where we fit in the world and to delve into the richly detailed pictures. A two-track CD features Seeger and then The Byrds singing the timeless words to a tune so familiar to our time. 2003, Simon & Schuster, Ages all.
—Susan Hepler, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-This rich and thoughtful book uses beautifully detailed artwork to bring new life to a familiar song. On the first page, the verse is printed on an illustration of the Earth with the repeated word "Turn!" encircling it. The focus of each of the following spreads is a large circle filled with small pictures. The verses are set along the edges, with contrasting ideas on either side ("a time to be born" on the left, "a time to die" on the right). Done in watercolor and ink, each of the round illustrations creates a cohesive whole, while its many sections tell small stories and reveal truths. The gutter divides each wheel in two, delineating between the opposing ideas of the verses. The tiny, detailed drawings fan out in all directions, forcing readers to turn the book around to view them. Some spreads are more dramatic than others: "a time of war" is illustrated with stark reds and grays, jagged lines, and images of sad children behind barbed wire and warriors in action. The illustration for "a time of peace" has rounded lines and brighter colors, and shows youngsters of all races holding hands and people enjoying quiet moments. Many details will beg for discussion, like the image of a hooded figure throwing stones at two retreating individuals. Accompanied by a CD with versions of the song by Seeger and the Byrds, this is a book for all collections.-Jane Marino, Bronxville Public Library, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The title of Pete Seeger's best-known song is also the best way to view Halperin's art; for each line of lyrics, she offers a circular painting, composed in the round and containing dozens of microscopically precise vignettes exemplifying the given idea. The whirl of human, animal, and imaginary figures makes mesmerizing viewing: "A time to die," for instance, is bordered by multiple scenes of predators, prey, and predation in sequence; what three pigs "build up," a huffing, puffing wolf breaks down; and dozens of children, each a distinct individual, hold hands in a great arch over the final promise. Seeger himself makes occasional appearances in the pictures, and adds a closing account of how-and why-the song came to be written. Halperin is in top form here, creating a worthy, engrossing exegesis for the timeless wisdom of Ecclesiastes. Packaged with musical arrangement, and a CD with versions of the song by Seeger and the Byrds. (Picture book. 7-9)

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.82(w) x 12.20(h) x 0.49(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Related Subjects

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
May 3, 1919
Date of Death:
January 27, 2014
Place of Birth:
Patterson, NY
Place of Death:
New York City, NY

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