The CD that accompanies this book is not just an audio readaloud, but an operetta-scale work whose 25 light classical-style songs are performed by dozens of singers and instrumentalists. The book, meanwhile, offers the spoken text and song lyrics along with Béha’s (City Kids) illustrations, whose flat, stylized Greek gods, painted in stained-glass blues and ochres, recall Chagall’s. The myth of Hades’s theft of Persephone explains the death of fertility in winter; Huser (Skinnybones and the Wrinkle Queen) turns it into a Taming of the Shrew–style romance. At first, Persephone scorns the blandishments of Hades. “How do you court a captive bird?” Hades wonders in one song. “A shining gem, to pin to your clothes?” “You can shove it, Hades, right up your nose,” Persephone snaps. But as time passes, she falls for Hades: “I go with you most willingly,” she murmurs at last, in an unsettling picture of female submission to machismo. The project’s production values are of a high standard, but there’s a whiff of “Read this, it’s good for you” that some of its intended audience may find off-putting. Ages 5–11. (Nov.)
"Combining striking illustrations, a dramatic story based on ancient myth, song lyrics, and a companion CD featuring a children's operetta, Time for Flowers, Time for Snow is a fabulous, multi-sensory thrill to be enjoyed by parents and kids alike...An ambitious project that brings together a group of talented collaboraters with splendid results. This is not just a book, it's a whole arts experience with many facets—literary, artistic, musical—to explore."
Gr 5 Up—This extravagant reworking of the Persephone myth pairs a picture book and a "CD of the opera performed by over 180 Quebec school children accompanied by the Orchestre Symphonique Pop de Montréal." Though Demeter's grief at the loss of Persephone and Persephone's longing to leave Hades and return to the flowering Earth are the heart of the tale, the music tends to be bright in tone. The telling is lush in description and dialogue. The pictures feature bold, spare figures in simple naive style, richly colored and highlighted with washes suggesting backgrounds. The underworld glows red, Earth is usually green, and many characters are framed in blue. Snippets from sheet music set into the pictures work well as collage and hint at the musical connection of the book. There's plenty to ponder in the narrative. Persephone is but a girl playing hide-and-seek when Hades kidnaps her to become his bride, and he treats her well, showering her with gifts and plying her with a rich variety of food she will not eat during her long months in the underworld, lest she be bound there for eternity. Zeus's messenger Hermes seems quite a dolt, unaccountably neglecting to report the child snatching he has witnessed. In the end this is a romance, with Persephone growing to love first her captor's horses and then him. The substantial package is not a simple introduction to the traditionally spare tale, but it offers possibilities for those who are already mythology fans.—Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
The Greek story of the goddess Demeter, her daughter Persephone and how the seasons came to be is told in song and story in this lively adaptation. The text is mostly prose that's interspersed with rhymed couplets. This reads somewhat clunkily, but when one realizes it is actually an operetta, it is rather more effective. The included CD contains the spoken narrative, the solo sung bits and a host of children's choruses that add sweet texture to the whole. Béha's illustrations show the influence of the Chagall/Cubist school, making splendid use of mottled and translucent color. Collaged-in printed music appears in the images as leaves, eyebrows or clothing, reinforcing the book's musical underpinnings. The tale has a spirited Persephone; she fights back against her imprisonment while Hades tries to win her over. He succeeds, too, as she chooses to eat a few pomegranate seeds so that she might return to him and then convinces her mother that this will work. There is some humor, and the music has elements of jazz and pop as well as opera. The book does not work so well as a printed story as it does when accompanied by the music, but with or without the CD, it is a creative foray into sharing myth with young people. (cast, production notes) (Mythology. 6-11)