CM . . .
. Volume XVIIII Number 2. . . .September 14, 2012
The exhausted winter wind only seeks a place of quiet refuge where he might retire, but with each stop, he is turned away. He first tries a village which turns out to be noisy and hot. Then he spies what seems to be a peaceful meadow, but the wind is not welcomed by the oak trees. A perfect spot at a mountain top full of “cracks and crannies” is a disappointment because he is once again spurned. A traveller’s inn, whose guests did not like the drafts and breeze created by the wind, is, once more, not suitable. The wind’s fury and frustration at being turned away from towns, trees, mountains, and inns results in a full scale snow storm which carpets the earth with fresh snow.
But a young girl, full of kindness and understanding, does care and offers the weary wind respite from all these rejections.
The wind is allowed to rest as long as he needs. Regaining his strength by spring, he pays back the girl’s generosity with a special gift for her and her family – a cool cellar for relief during the hot summers.
Via sparkling personifications, Oberman imbues the wind with human qualities throughout this delightful tale which has its roots in Russian folklore. A surefire read-aloud and a book that could have a significant place in a study of folk tales, The Wind That Wanted to Rest emphasizes that goodness and compassion can be rewarded. In her “Afterword”, Peninnah Schram, a noted storyteller in her own right, offers wonderful information about the use of the wind as a motif in many stories and indicates the wind’s powerful role in many diverse cultures.
The soft, subdued watercolour illustrations by Neil Waldman make liberal use of pale shades, predominately blue, green and mauve, and so beautifully complement the tone of the story. This limiting palate still offers surprisingly expressive pictures and seems to reflect an old European setting.
Just as the world weary old wind leaves a lasting legacy to a special girl and her family for their kindness, so, too, has this beloved Winnipeg storyteller, teacher, and children's author, Sheldon Oberman, left readers with an incredible gift of a beautifully told tale. Affectionately known as Obie, Sheldon passed away in 2004, and his talents are sorely missed.
Reesa Cohen is a retired Instructor of Children’s Literature and Information Literacy at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.
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