The poetic words of the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes have been read, sung and whispered in countless books, songs and prayers. But in this picture-book tour de force, the two-time Caldecott Medalists celebrate the universality of the time-honored verse, depicting its relevance throughout history, spanning all cultures and religions. At first glance, readers will recognize in the jacket art a painting possessing many of the signature hallmarks of the Dillons' work: dramatic, intriguing human figures and subtle, earthy tones. Once inside, however, readers witness the artists giving over their own recognizable approach to immerse themselves in the style and media of several different world cultures. The opening painting, inspired by illuminated manuscripts and the Book of Kells, suggests the great things to come. The intricately rendered pattern consists of carefully arranged circles that contain symbols of nature and the seasons; they nearly swirl on the page, creating a larger visual circle that suggests the cycle of life. The subsequent spreads each contain a single line of text in a crisp font, and an expansive double-panel painting which incorporates cultural motifs and the palette and tone of a particular era and region of the world. To illustrate "A time to weep,/ and a time to laugh," for example, the artists show a young man in 16th-century India leaving his sorrowful family during a time of drought; on the juxtaposing page he joyfully returns to a lush landscape, opulently dressed and bearing riches. Other destinations in the book include ancient Egypt (featuring a sarcophagus and the god of mummification, Anubis), medieval Europe (in which villagers mourn a loved one and dance at a wedding) and 18th-century Japan (woodblock prints of people working in the rice paddies). Many readers will liken the experience of viewing this astonishing array of art styles and media to walking through a brilliantly curated exhibition in a museum. The ample detail in costume, geography and symbolism allows each work to tell its own grand story. And the wealth of emotion on the faces of the players here further personalizes their histories. In addition, the Dillons explain the historical background of and the inspiration for each illustration in a succinct and thoroughly researched afterword. All told, this enlightening volume exudes a quiet elegance readers will not soon forget. All ages. (Oct.)
The text is taken from the Bible, the Book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter III, verses 1-8 and Chapter I, verse 4. These words have been read and spoken for more than 2,000 years. The Dillons use the text and their art to celebrate the seasons (moments in time) of human existence. They have selected scenes from the major cultures of the world to illustrate the poetic text. For example, "A time to plant" is set in ancient Japan and "A time to kill" is set in Mexico. For each of their spreads they have used artistic styles appropriate to the culture and the time period depicted. For the scene set in ancient Japan they made the art look like the woodblock prints which were used to depict life in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. For Mexico, they used the technique from the screen fold picture books or codices created prior to the arrival of Europeans. This is an exquisite book that offers plenty of information about the totality of human experience. That being said, it is a book that will not really appeal to young children. The text must be explained and it presumes a large body of knowledge to make the art and text work together. It would make a lovely gift for an adult or older child.
K Up-The poignant words of Ecclesiastes I:4 and III: 1-8, adapted from the King James Version of the Bible, are stunningly interpreted in a panoply of 16 full- and double-page paintings. Each represents a different artistic style and a different culture, using traditional colors and figures and showcases the Dillons' creative versatility, sensitivity, and careful attention to detail. The historical periods range from the time of the New Kingdom in Egypt (2000-1000 B.C.E.) to today. Among the cultural styles included are Japanese, Greek, Indian, Kuaua Pueblo, Ethiopian, Australian Aboriginal, Inuit, and Thai. The book begins with a circle of seasons inspired by the illuminated Book of Kells and ends with a rendition of Earth as a big blue marble seen from space. Appropriately framed or unframed, each illustration is excitingly unique. To produce a feeling of authenticity, techniques include gouache on brown parchment, acrylic on Bristol board, ink and acrylic on acetate, and gouache on silk, among others. Every part of the outstanding format-covers, endpapers, typography, paper quality, and color reproduction-is in harmony and elevates the text. The stated purpose of this tour de force is to show the common humanity of people in every place and era as they experience the eternal cycle of life. A lovely introduction and historical, interpretive notes on the illustrations are included. This is an ecumenical, artistic, and cultural experience, rich in beauty and expansive in its appreciation of ethnic variety, with an intrinsic plea for worldwide understanding.-Patricia Pearl Dole, formerly at First Presbyterian School, Martinsville, VA
Leo and Diane Dillon have long been praised for their versatility-and boy, is it on display here. And display is the operative word for this ostentatious plundering of several millennia's worth of artistic styles to overwhelm the simple verses of Ecclesiastes. A double-page spread in the style of Egyptian New Kingdom tomb painting illustrates the first pairing ("A time to be born, and a time to die"); Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock style (� la The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks) depicts sowing and reaping; the Mixtecs are chosen for killing and healing (with the same character portrayed as both ritual sacrifice and grateful patient-odd). Then it's turn, turn, turn through the Greeks, Mughals, medieval Germans, Pueblos...Australian aborigines, Inuits, and, finally and cutely, Persian miniatures for "a time of war, and a time of peace." Almost every spread is handsome and technically dazzling, but sterile, more intent upon style than emotion. The greatest drama, in fact, is in the page turns themselves, but it's of the ooh-and-aah variety that calls attention to the fact of the artists' multidexterity-at the expense of the book.
The Dillons illustrate the familiar verses of Ecclesiastes in the King James version, one spread for every double-edged phrase, e.g., "a time to mourn, and a time to dance." They have taken inspiration for these gouache, acrylic, watercolor, and ink paintings the great art of the world; the opening image is based on the Book of Kells; among other styles used are Japanese ukiyo-e, Greek red-and-black pottery, kiva painting, medieval woodcuts, Russian icons, and Thai shadow plays. Every one is executed with meticulous precision and great feeling; all are annotated at the end. This is a gift book in the best sense, to be read often; if children don't respond immediately to its overall formality, they will surely find pages to pore over herein. (Picture book. 9+)