... beautifully illustrated, profoundly told and would be a joy to read to a beloved child. Southwestern Episcopalian
"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.
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
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
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)