Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Once upon a northern night by Jean E. Pendziwol, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

I will admit, quite frankly, that I mainly buy mainstream, popular books. I try to keep a balanced collection, but when it comes down to brass tacks I need books that will circulate frequently and that the majority of people will check out. However, that doesn't mean I can't occasionally add a book that will be special to just a few people. I don't necessarily think these lower-circulating books have any more literary merit (and frankly I wouldn't care if they did) but there is a certain amount of "I'll buy 5 cheap Barbie paperbacks and then I can buy something a little more esoteric" in my thinking.

One of the illustrators I like to indulge in is Isabelle Arsenault. Her art is beautiful but not necessarily the thing most parents will grab off the shelf when they're looking for something to read to their kids.

This latest book, with poetic text by Jean Pendziwol, might be just a little more accessible than some of her other work and I'm excited to see if it gets more people aware of Arsenault's beautiful art. It's a lovely winter bedtime story with poetic verse on each page matched with Arsenault's stark illustrations in winter colors of white, frozen blue and dusky brown with splashes of orange and red. A little sample of some of the poetry

"Once upon a northern night
pine trees held out prickly hands
to catch the falling flakes
that gathered into puffs of creamy white,
settling like balls of cotton,

Verdict: While my town isn't quite far enough for pine trees, we certainly have our share of winter snows and I think this will be a lovely book for some special readers. It won't rival Llama Llama in circulation, but may just find a nook in that one child's memory. If you have the budget, I'd make this your "special" purchase of the month or year.

ISBN: 9781554981380; Published 2013 by Groundwood Books; Borrowed from another library in my consortium; Added to the library's tentative order list; Added to my personal wishlist

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