________________ CM . . . . Volume IV Number 18 . . . . May 8, 1998

Cover Fern Hill.

Dylan Thomas. Illustrated by by Murray Kimber.
Red Deer, AB: Red Deer College Press, 1997.
32 pp., hardcover, $17.95.
ISBN 0-88995-164-0.

Subject Heading:
Children's poetry, Welsh.

Grades 5 and up / Ages 10 and up.
Review by Gail Hamilton.

*** /4


All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay
Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air
     And playing, lovely and watery
          And fire green as grass.
             And nightly under the simple stars
     As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,
         All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars
             Flying with the ricks, and the horses
          Flashing into the dark.
image The magic and innocence of childhood are the main themes in Thomas's classic poem which was first published in 1945. A boy, growing up in the country, lets his imagination run wild as he plays in the fields and forests surrounding his family farm. He engages in make-believe games in which he is the "prince of all he sees," marvelling in the beauty of nature and in command of all wild creatures.

      Thomas's poem has been divided to allow between two and six lines on each double-page spread. (The poem appears again, in its entirety, on the last page of text.) Known for his love of rich imagery and the sounds of words, Thomas does not disappoint in this offering. It is a shame, then, that his imagery will largely be lost on a generation of children raised on the poetry of Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky. Even some of the poem's vocabulary, such as dingle, nightjars and ricks, will be foreign to today's students.

      The text is printed in a very simple font so as not to detract from Kimber's vivid paintings which have been created in the same style as those in Josepha. Rich jewel colours, contrasts of dark and light, and few details tend to draw the eye right into each scene. Illustrations vary in size - some are single pages, others double-page spreads.

      Unfortunately, with the exception of teachers using it for poetry units, the book has limited audience appeal.

Recommended with reservations.

Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian at Bird's Hill School in East St. Paul, Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © 1998 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364