cover image To Every Thing There is a Season: Verses from Ecclesiastes

To Every Thing There is a Season: Verses from Ecclesiastes

. Scholastic, $18.99 (30pp) ISBN 978-0-590-47887-8

The poetic words of the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes have been read, sung and whispered in countless books, songs and prayers. But in this picture-book tour de force, the two-time Caldecott Medalists celebrate the universality of the time-honored verse, depicting its relevance throughout history, spanning all cultures and religions. At first glance, readers will recognize in the jacket art a painting possessing many of the signature hallmarks of the Dillons' work: dramatic, intriguing human figures and subtle, earthy tones. Once inside, however, readers witness the artists giving over their own recognizable approach to immerse themselves in the style and media of several different world cultures. The opening painting, inspired by illuminated manuscripts and the Book of Kells, suggests the great things to come. The intricately rendered pattern consists of carefully arranged circles that contain symbols of nature and the seasons; they nearly swirl on the page, creating a larger visual circle that suggests the cycle of life. The subsequent spreads each contain a single line of text in a crisp font, and an expansive double-panel painting which incorporates cultural motifs and the palette and tone of a particular era and region of the world. To illustrate ""A time to weep,/ and a time to laugh,"" for example, the artists show a young man in 16th-century India leaving his sorrowful family during a time of drought; on the juxtaposing page he joyfully returns to a lush landscape, opulently dressed and bearing riches. Other destinations in the book include ancient Egypt (featuring a sarcophagus and the god of mummification, Anubis), medieval Europe (in which villagers mourn a loved one and dance at a wedding) and 18th-century Japan (woodblock prints of people working in the rice paddies). Many readers will liken the experience of viewing this astonishing array of art styles and media to walking through a brilliantly curated exhibition in a museum. The ample detail in costume, geography and symbolism allows each work to tell its own grand story. And the wealth of emotion on the faces of the players here further personalizes their histories. In addition, the Dillons explain the historical background of and the inspiration for each illustration in a succinct and thoroughly researched afterword. All told, this enlightening volume exudes a quiet elegance readers will not soon forget. All ages. (Oct.)