CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 20 . . . . January 26, 2018
The concept of an individual having a guardian angel is rooted in ancient Judaism and in Christianity and also finds expression in Islam and Zoroastrianism. In Angel Blessings, via rhyming couplets and folk art-like illustrations, Lachambre provides youngsters with her take on what angels are, what they do, and how their presence is signalled or can be detected.
The unpaged book uses a very simple design with the majority of each page being consumed by one of Lachambre's framed, full-colour illustrations beneath which is placed one or two lines of the rhyming text. From the text, a youngster could garner that her/his guardian angel is heaven-sent and omnipresent, offering unseen love, emotional support, protection, guidance, direction. As well, according to Lachambre, angels offer reminders of, or hints to, their presence.
Lachambre's angels all have wings and long flowing brown hair plus robes of various colours. The angels' wings vary both in shape and colour. The angels, themselves, are rendered faceless/featureless, and the colour Lachambre has selected for the angels' skin tone could leave youngsters drawing the conclusion that angels are all whites. For some reason, in one illustration Lachambre has elected to show an angel's legs, presenting them as sticks with a blob at the bottom, the blob possibly representing feet or Minnie Mouse-type shoes.
The children presented in the text, with one exception, appear to be much older than the book's intended audience, and, in only one instance, is the child obviously female. Like the angels, the children are brown-headed, faceless/featureless and share the angels' skin tone.
To the traditional general understandings of angels and their roles, Lachambre adds some notions or beliefs that may not be readily embraced some readers. The text for the aforementioned stick-legged angel reads:
Overall, Angel Blessings is not a bad book; it's just not a good book, in part because Lachambre's ideas about angels become repetitive. As well, finding an institutional audience for Angel Blessings could be a challenge. Faith-based schools might question some of its "theology" while public schools could see it as being too "religious". If there is a place for Angel Blessings, it is at the home level where a parent or another adult can share its contents with a young listener.
Dave Jenkinson, CM's editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB.