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friday feast: a balm for the soul

Just as I sat down to write this post, I spotted deer outside my window:

They were snuffling patches of dead leaves, hoping to find a treat or two under the snow. Seeing them always makes me feel calm and reassured. Despite all the chaos in the world, they're still here, reminding us of what is important. Good timing, because I'd been admiring the deer (as well as other woodland animals) in Peter Yarrow's new picture book, Day is Done, which features the lyrics to his iconic folk song. The lovely marriage of his words and Melissa Sweet's pictures calms, comforts, and celebrates the kinship of all living things.

In case it's been awhile since you've heard the song, here's a lovely version featuring Peter, Paul & Mary, the Smothers Brothers, Donovan, and Jennifer Warne:

Day is Done is quite handsome as picture books go, a big hug of a book. Sweet's lush watercolor and mixed media illustrations of animal families settling down for the night are gorgeous and evocative. Of course Melissa had me at the cover, with the mama bear hugging her cub.

All the parent-child animal pairs (bears, deer, rabbits, raccoons, birds, foxes, field mice), and finally the human father tucking his son into bed, reinforce the song's promise. Though haunting and melancholy, the lyrics offer a strong message of hope: the innocence, openness, non-judgmental goodness and wisdom of children can inspire and initiate healing. Though it is usually the parent who comforts the child, it is the child who holds the secret to spiritual awakening. 

  (Click to enlarge.)

I love the predominantly green and blue palette -- the joyous greens of daytime, growth and renewal, the deep blues of the ocean and night sky. As dusk settles on the countryside, the deep, rich tonal blends in the scenes are simply stunning. Bright accents -- fuschia blossoms and holly berries, scarlet mushrooms, magenta lilies, the boy's fiery red blanket --seem to signal youthful exuberance, the persistence of beauty radiating even in darkness.

 (Click to enlarge.)

The book includes an afterword and a CD featuring Yarrow performing "Day is Done" as well as two bonus songs, "I Know Where I'm Going" and "Dona Dona Dona," with his daughter, Bethany. A nice intergenerational gift pick perfect for family sharing and sing-a-longs, this one is a welcome balm for holiday stress!

BTW, the deer rooted out a huge stash of acorns Len buried about a month ago. How do animals know how to find these things, especially with snow on the ground? Amazing.

by Peter Yarrow
illustrated by Melissa Sweet
(Sterling, 2009), ages 3-7, 24 pp.
Source of book: Review copy provided by publisher.

Click here to see a video of Peter Yarrow talking about and performing "Day is Done" at Book Expo America this past spring.

Full lyrics of "Day is Done" are here.

Autographed copies are available through Chinaberry.

Diane Mayr at Random Noodling is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup today. Check out the goodies!

*Spreads from Day is Done posted by permission, text copyright © 2009 Peter Yarrow, illustrations © 2009 Melissa Sweet, published by Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2009 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan's alphabet soup. All rights reserved.


Dec. 13th, 2009 06:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Kelly. I photographed them through my office window and wished I had a really serious camera with a good zoom lens.

Our snow didn't last long, but it was pretty. We're getting the Noah's Ark stuff now.

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