We praise you that in this world of hatred and war,Brother Sun, Sister Moon: Saint Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Creatures
You still give us courageous brothers and sisters
who offer their lives to the making of peace.
They are indeed your beloved children.
— from Brother Sun, Sister Moon
written by Katherine Paterson, illustrated by Pamela Dalton
Chronicle 2011, review copy from publisher
The Canticle of the Creatures is elegantly reworked in accessible phrasing with detailed cut-paper illustrations. One word review: Gorgeous. Two word review: Gorgeous gratitude. The levels of beauty continue to surprise me, but I’ll admit that the book requires a patient reader. That seems like a hard sell for a picture book, and yet I see the need for this book. First in a religious context, where too often the quality of the work is lacking in favor of the message. Here we have both, with the text invoking God with sublime poetry and imagery. Fire is praised for the warmth it gives “and in whose resplendent dancing light we glimpse your playfulness.” At the same time the stunning illustrations take us through a story where wood is chopped to build fires for warmth and to bake bread. And in the artwork lies the second need for the book: an invitation to slow down. There’s a sensibility to the delicate cut-paper work where willow branches bend to the force of the wind or bow in a border echoing the downward flow of the water that begs for deliberation. In stopping to appreciate the scenes, the reader has the opportunity to absorb the words of gratitude. In a picture book age of broad strokes and quick page turns, Brother Sun, Sister Moon makes an appeal for an unhurried approach, a mindfulness within its pages that extends to the natural world beyond. Exquisite.
Poetry Friday is hosted today at Teaching Authors.
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