Reviews for To Every Thing There Is a Season : Verses from Ecclesiastes


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 October 1998
/*Starred Review*/ Gr. 4^-7, younger for reading aloud. The Dillons take the well-known verses and handsomely illustrate them in a way that highlights their universality. Each of the poem's couplets, which so well capture the duality of life, is illustrated in a two-page spread set within the context of a particular time and civilization. "A time to be born / And a time to die" is depicted in the style of Egyptian tomb murals. One page shows an Egyptian family with a new baby; the facing page shows a family in mourning near a mummy's casket. "A time to love / A time to hate" is done in the style of the stone-cut art of the Inuit people and shows a loving couple with their children, and then the anger they feel as an evil spirit rips a child from their arms.The book has few weaknesses and enormous strengths. Some of the lines are exceedingly difficult to illustrate, and although the Dillons make a game effort, they are not entirely successful. For instance, "A time to kill, / and a time to heal" depicts a Mixtec sacrifice and then, apparently, the same victim being healed with medication. Although this works as a literal interpretation of the verse, children who don't understand that in some cases sacrifice was considered an honor may be bewildered. The Dillons have included a key at the back of the book whereby readers can learn what setting is being depicted, which style of art is used, and why the authors have chosen a particular image. However, the notes are quite short, and children will probably read them only at an adult's prodding. In any case, for children to get the most out of the book, some adult explanation will probably be necessary.Yet even without fully gleaning all the implications of the text, readers will be awed by the breadth and depth of the artwork. To be able to replicate so many styles of art makes for a dazzling tour de force. However, if artistic virtuosity were the book's only strength, it would count for little. What impresses is the seriousness and thought the Dillons have put into the book. Being ever mindful of their goal, to show commonality through diversity, they have succeeded in producing a book that can be examined and thought about by generations of young readers. ((Reviewed October 1, 1998)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 1999
The Dillons have long been praised for their versatility--and boy, is it on display here. And display [cf2]is[cf1] the operative word for this ostentatious plundering of several millennia's worth of artistic styles to overwhelm the simple verses of Ecclesiastes. Almost every spread is handsome and technically dazzling, but sterile, more intent upon style than emotion. Copyright 1999 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 1998 #5
Leo and Diane Dillon have long been praised for their versatility-and boy, is it on display here. And display is the operative word for this ostentatious plundering of several millennia's worth of artistic styles to overwhelm the simple verses of Ecclesiastes. A double-page spread in the style of Egyptian New Kingdom tomb painting illustrates the first pairing ("A time to be born, and a time to die"); Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock style ( la The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks) depicts sowing and reaping; the Mixtecs are chosen for killing and healing (with the same character portrayed as both ritual sacrifice and grateful patient-odd). Then it's turn, turn, turn through the Greeks, Mughals, medieval Germans, Pueblos...Australian aborigines, Inuits, and, finally and cutely, Persian miniatures for "a time of war, and a time of peace." Almost every spread is handsome and technically dazzling, but sterile, more intent upon style than emotion. The greatest drama, in fact, is in the page turns themselves, but it's of the ooh-and-aah variety that calls attention to the fact of the artists' multidexterity-at the expense of the book. r.s. Copyright 1999 Horn Book Magazine Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 1998 September #2
The Dillons illustrate the familiar verses of Ecclesiastes in the King James version, one spread for every double-edged phrase, e.g., ``a time to mourn, and a time to dance.'' They have taken inspiration for these gouache, acrylic, watercolor, and ink paintings the great art of the world; the opening image is based on the Book of Kells; among other styles used are Japanese ukiyo-e, Greek red-and-black pottery, kiva painting, medieval woodcuts, Russian icons, and Thai shadow plays. Every one is executed with meticulous precision and great feeling; all are annotated at the end. This is a gift book in the best sense, to be read often; if children don't respond immediately to its overall formality, they will surely find pages to pore over herein. (Picture book. 9+) Copyright 1998 Kirkus Reviews

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Library Talk Reviews 1999 January
On the surface, the text of the Dillon's book is brief and simple: the well-known and often quoted verses from Ecclesiastes. But they offer much to ponder and to explain to younger children. The authors surely grappled for a long time with the meaning, and how best to reflect it visually, of such lines as "A time to cast stones and a time to gather stones together." They explain their thinking in the illuminating notes on their illustrations and their sources at the end of the text. Their pictures are based on typical works from many of the world's artistic styles: Mayan Codex, Ethiopian manuscript, Byzantine fresco, Australian aboriginal painting, and others. Each visual setting captures the spirit of the chosen phrase. From side-to-side, across the gutter, or in two frames, the illustrations take us from the first part of the verse to the last. Here in one volume is a remarkable art history lesson that could provide material to build on all year. Interested students will seek more examples of the presented periods and styles. Highly Recommended. Sylvia and Ken Marantz, Columbus, Ohio © 1999 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1998 July #4
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.) Copyright 1998 Publishers Weekly Reviews

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School Library Journal Reviews 1998 September
K Up-The poignant words of Ecclesiastes I:4 and III: 1-8, adapted from the King James Version of the Bible, are stunningly interpreted in a panoply of 16 full- and double-page paintings. Each represents a different artistic style and a different culture, using traditional colors and figures and showcases the Dillons' creative versatility, sensitivity, and careful attention to detail. The historical periods range from the time of the New Kingdom in Egypt (2000-1000 B.C.E.) to today. Among the cultural styles included are Japanese, Greek, Indian, Kuaua Pueblo, Ethiopian, Australian Aboriginal, Inuit, and Thai. The book begins with a circle of seasons inspired by the illuminated Book of Kells and ends with a rendition of Earth as a big blue marble seen from space. Appropriately framed or unframed, each illustration is excitingly unique. To produce a feeling of authenticity, techniques include gouache on brown parchment, acrylic on Bristol board, ink and acrylic on acetate, and gouache on silk, among others. Every part of the outstanding format-covers, endpapers, typography, paper quality, and color reproduction-is in harmony and elevates the text. The stated purpose of this tour de force is to show the common humanity of people in every place and era as they experience the eternal cycle of life. A lovely introduction and historical, interpretive notes on the illustrations are included. This is an ecumenical, artistic, and cultural experience, rich in beauty and expansive in its appreciation of ethnic variety, with an intrinsic plea for worldwide understanding.-Patricia Pearl Dole, formerly at First Presbyterian School, Martinsville, VA Copyright 1998 School Library Journal Reviews

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