________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 14 . . . . March 18, 2005

cover The Twelve Days of Summer.

Jan Andrews. Illustrated by Susan Rennick Jolliffe.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2005.
32 pp., cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 1-55143-365-6.

Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 4-8.

Review by Valerie Nielsen.

*** /4

Reviewed from f&g's.

Jan Andrews is an award-winning author with a passion for storytelling. Readers will remember her classic picture book, Very First Last Time, published in 1985 and illustrated by Ian Wallace. Published in 1990, The Auction, which tells a moving story of the demise of one family farm, was short-listed for both the Governor-General's Award and the Ruth Schwarz Children's Literature Prize in that year. In The Twelve Days of Summer, her latest book for children, Andrews has combined her love of the Canadian landscape with a version of the traditional carol, "The Twelve Days of Christmas," and takes readers on a journey into summer. Her rendition begins with the discovery of a song-bird's nest:

On the first day of summer,

the sunshine brought to me

A song sparrow nest for three.

On the second day, the sunshine brings two goatsbeard seeds. Three ruffled grouse appear next, succeeded by four garter snakes, five bumblebees, six hawks, seven moles, eight toads, nine daisies, ten crows, eleven swallows, and finally, on the very last page, four sets (that makes twelve!) of eggs a-hatching. With moles a-digging, toads a-hopping and crows a-cawing, the words almost sing themselves in the traditional tune.

What makes The Twelve Days of Summer such an engaging picture book is Susan Joliffe's wonderfully detailed paintings of the birds, insects and wild flowers which populate its 24 pages. Her fascination and expertise in all aspects of nature and ecology are evident in her artwork, which simply bursts forth in all the glory of early summer. To create this profusion of flora and fauna, the artist has filled every page right up to its edges, using pens and brushes and archival inks as well as hard and soft coloured pencils.

The author has thoughtfully provided a page at the end of the book entitled "Facts--Common and Curious" on which she offers interesting little nuggets of information about the flowers, birds and animals that are portrayed in the book. Young listeners will enjoy poring over the illustrations, searching for the requisite number of bugs, birds or beasts and seeing if they can spot a man-made item that this clever illustrator has tucked into each picture.


A retired teacher-librarian, Valerie Nielsen lives in Winnipeg, MB.

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