In Brother Sun, Sister Moon, award-winning author Katherine Paterson re-imagines a hymn of praise originally written by Saint Francis of Assisi in 1224. Illuminated with the exquisite illustrations of cut-paper artist Pamela Dalton, this picture book offers a stunningly beautiful tribute to nature.
Artwork and verse alike give a nod toward the Europe of centuries past in this reimagining of Saint Francis's song of thankfulness and praise, which dates to the 1220s. An editor's note mentions that Francis composed the canticle "in his local Umbrian dialect... so that his words could be understood by all." Similarly, Paterson, the current national ambassador for young people's literature, does a fine job of making the canticle more catholic than Catholic (no mention of mortal sin), while maintaining a traditional tone and hewing to the structure of the original, which appears at book's end. As Paterson expresses thankfulness to God for various forces of creation ("We praise you for our Sister Earth, who declares your mother love for us"), debut artist Dalton offers delicately detailed, loosely symmetrical cut-paper tableaus, set against black backdrops and framed by birds' nests, willow trees, vines, and branches. Young Germanic peasants work and play, harvesting, baking, and, in a solemn spread dedicated to Sister Death, mourning a deceased woodland animal. It's only the absence of a more multicultural cast that keeps this from being a truly global paean to God's creation. Ages 4 8.