Artwork and verse alike give a nod toward the Europe of centuries past in this reimagining of Saint Francis's song of thankfulness and praise, which dates to the 1220s. An editor's note mentions that Francis composed the canticle "in his local Umbrian dialect... so that his words could be understood by all." Similarly, Paterson, the current national ambassador for young people's literature, does a fine job of making the canticle more catholic than Catholic (no mention of mortal sin), while maintaining a traditional tone and hewing to the structure of the original, which appears at book's end. As Paterson expresses thankfulness to God for various forces of creation ("We praise you for our Sister Earth, who declares your mother love for us"), debut artist Dalton offers delicately detailed, loosely symmetrical cut-paper tableaus, set against black backdrops and framed by birds' nests, willow trees, vines, and branches. Young Germanic peasants work and play, harvesting, baking, and, in a solemn spread dedicated to Sister Death, mourning a deceased woodland animal. It's only the absence of a more multicultural cast that keeps this from being a truly global paean to God's creation. Ages 4–8. (June)
"Gorgeous" - School Library Journal Starred Review
"An inspiring modern classic." - Booklist Starred Review
"The combination of her polished poetic text and Ms. Dalton's glorious illustrations reach a sublime height." - New York Journal of Books
PreS-Gr 4—On 13 spreads, Paterson and Dalton reinterpret this 13th-century hymn using clear, concise language and glorious "Scherenschnitte" (scissor cuts) artwork. Most pages feature only two lines of text, all offering praise and thanks to "God, the Lord of Heaven" for wonders ranging from Brother Sun to Sister Water, and for family, friends, and life both earthly and eternal. Paterson's choices of words are both true to the original and appealing to contemporary listeners. Her tone is gentle, reverential, and never preachy. Although she has not shied away from difficult ideas, referencing both "this world of hatred and war" and the natural fear of "Sister Death," the overall sentiments are in keeping with Saint Francis's intention to glorify and express gratitude toward "the Father and Mother of all creation." Dalton's intricate watercolor-touched paper cuts feature seasonal flora, fauna, and simple country folk, elucidating the gentle rhythms of a life lived in conjunction with nature. Her illustrations, each cut from one continuous piece of paper, are based on a technique of early-19th-century Pennsylvania Germans and are replete with carefully wrought details. Black backgrounds bordered with natural elements (e.g., birds' nests, flowers, butterflies) help to focus readers' eyes on images specifically mentioned in the text, with those most poignant suggesting strong emotional moments: a childhood romp through the fields, a loving embrace between parents, an exchange of soulful looks at the burial of a beloved pet. Notes from both the author and illustrator explaining their approaches to the work, as well as a translation of the Canticle from the Umbrian dialect, complete this gorgeous offering.—Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, The Naples Players, FL
A gorgeous visual paean to the natural world that reflects and echoes the prayer it accompanies.
Beloved author Paterson "reimagines" Francis of Assisi's "Canticle of the Creatures" in crystalline language. "For this life and the life to come, we sing our praise to you, / O Lord, the Father and Mother of all creation." The song starts with Brother Sun and Sister Moon, Brother Air and Sister Water, and leads on to thanksgiving for Sister Earth and Brother Fire, through praise for those who can forgive, comfort for those who suffer, courage for those who make peace.There is praise for Sister Death, acknowledging fear but recognizing her as part of love "for this life and the life to come." Dalton's extraordinary images, made with papercuts and watercolor lain on a black background, have the same stately rhythm, repetition and beauty as the text. Borders of fruit branches, flowers and leaves set off the text and the center frame, which is in two or three lines of images like a medieval panel painting or a contemporary sequential tale. A farmer plows and reaps, children play and work. Exquisitely rendered butterflies and oxen, sunflowers and apples, wheat and bread make the world vivid, present and lovely.
Grace and joy for all ages and almost any faith. (author's, editor's and illustrator's notes, "Canticle" translated by Bill Barrett) (Picture book/religion. 5-10)