cover image The First Song Ever Sung

The First Song Ever Sung

Laura Krauss Melmed. HarperCollins Publishers, $16 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-688-08230-7

Melmed and Young strike up a singularly harmonious collaboration in this incandescent picture book. A child asks his relatives to name the first song ever sung, and each supplies a different response. Melmed's text is strikingly musical (the child's brother says, ``The first song ever sung was a proud song, a loud song, a stomping, shaking, shout song,'' while the sister says, ``The first song ever sung was a rope song, a swing song, a jumping, twirling, leap song''). Young, meanwhile, heightens the lyricism by setting the story in a long-ago Japan, his scenes a balance between the slightly abstract and the clearly representational, between the fabulous and the natural. Just as Melmed's ( The Rainbabies ) words invite close attention, Young's imagery compels careful scrutiny--while each spread is immediately arresting, the full impact comes across slowly and luxuriously. The palette is dramatic, occasionally enhanced with metallic inks, yet it never overpowers the story. And because the final response to the boy's question is that of his mother, who sings him a lullaby, this title can double as a bedtime book, ensuring the richest of dreams. Ages 3-up. (May)