cover image Celebration Song: A Poem

Celebration Song: A Poem

James Berry. Simon & Schuster, $14 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-671-89446-7

``Your born-day is a happening day,'' says Mary to Baby Jesus on his first birthday. ``I'll tell you your own own story./ First-how you began.'' This jubilant poem, Berry's (Ajeemah and His Son) first picture book, transplants the Nativity story to the Caribbean. Awash with lilting tropical sounds, the verse details an all-out celebration: ``Wind dances palm trees,'' ``Hounds dance with foxes/ Lions dance with lambs'' and ``in the sea the fishes/ all dance.'' Only occasionally does Berry lapse into prosaic speech (Mary says, ``In one year, you have caused/ fears, visions, parables,/ and the calling of councils''). The text is emblazoned on banners and ribbons that unfurl across each page, festively integrated into the full-spread art. Brierley's (Peacock Pie) island motifs are homely yet original. Folk-art figures people muted sea- and landscapes; the ``mystery messenger'' foretelling Christ's birth, shown with white feathered angel wings, appears behind the laundered sheets Mary is hanging up to dry. A unique multicultural addition to holiday fare. Ages 3-8. (Oct.)