CM . . . .
Volume VI Number 5 . . . . October 29, 1999
To everything there is a season,The familiar text of this beautiful book is taken from the Book of Ecclesiastics, Chapter III, verses 1-8, followed by Chapter I, verse 4. For countless generations the words, popularized in songs, books and movies, have been a source of comfort, hope and inspiration. As the book's foreward, "About Ecclesiastes," points out, "To Every Thing There is a Season presents these famous words as a celebration of the seasons of human existence - the mysterious ebb and flow of happiness and pain that is ultimately beyond our control." In Leo and Diane Dillon's view, the timeless words from Ecclesiastes are a reminder that, regardless of diverse beliefs, there are common threads which bind all people together.
The Dillons' way of illustrating these common threads is to present unique styles of art from around the world, each one depicting a single phrase of the text. The resulting book is breathtakingly beautiful, each full page illustration representing the art of a different culture and era. Egyptian murals, Grecian vase paintings, Iranian miniatures, Australian aboriginal bark paintings, Indian manuscript illustrations and stone-cut Inuit prints are but a few of the art forms on which the illustrations in To Every Thing There is a Season are based. At the end of the book, the artists have given the reader three pages of invaluable information regarding the source, media and approximate time period of each painting.
Leo and Diane Dillon have won every major award for illustration in children's books, including the Caldecott Medal two years in succession for Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears (1976) and Ashanti to Zulu (1977). In To Every Thing There is a Season, their fortieth illustrated book, the artists write, "We have been inspired by art in its many forms, and, with this book, respectfully pay homage to it, and those things all people have in common." Their book in turn should inspire the reader to ponder the many ways that artists have found to express the human spirit.
Teacher-librarians will want to draw this book to the attention of art teachers and indeed to all educators whose goals include the celebration of diversity.
Valerie Nielsen is a retired teacher-librarian living in Winnipeg, MB.
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