Edith Newlin Chase. Illustrated by Yolaine Lefebvre.
Preschool - grade 3 / Ages 4 - 8.
When the first thin light comes creeping
Up the early edge of day,
And the household is still sleeping,
Then I dress and slip away
To the place that I am keeping
For my secret hideaway.
SECRET DAWN is Edith Newlin Chase's third poem published as a picture book. It joins her much-loved picture books The New Baby Calf and Waters. The appealing verse vividly describes a child's secret place -- a special hideaway -- where, in the tranquillity of the early morning, she can think and write in peace. Canadian illustrator Yolaine Lefebvre captures the beauty of the dawn, with its shadows and mystery, in her watercolour illustrations.
The subject of Secret Dawn is near and dear to any child: a private to dream and delight. Awakening as dawn breaks, a young girl slips outside to her secret hideaway, the willow tree. In the stillness of the morning, she experiences the mystery of her "shadowy shrine." Exploring her box of treasures, she finds her notebook and a pencil stub to record: "The secret thoughts and secret rhymes/That I think to myself and write sometimes."
Secret Dawn is a book that encourages children to dream and adults to reminisce. Chase's lyrical verse conjures magic and will introduce children to the use of words for painting visual and mental images: "Like a leafy mammoth pillow/In the dim delight of dawn"
The double-page spread illustrations also effectively evoke the ethereal atmosphere of a child's secret place. Lefebvre's "wet-on-wet" technique and wonderful choice of colour provide a dreamy effect and nestle the reader within the privacy of the willow's branches. Even the end papers help set the mood. (An explanation of Lefebvre's technique provides valuable information for readers interested in learning more about illustration.)
Secret Dawn introduces the young reader to the magic of poetry. The text and illustrations cohesively convey a secret hideaway and the dreaminess of the early dawn. Together, they invite readers to stop and dream about a special place and a secret pastime.
Recommended for personal and library collections.
Janice Foster is currently a teacher-librarian/enrichment coordinator
in the Fort Garry School Division in Winnipeg.
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Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association.
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