friday feast: a balm for the soul

Just as I sat down to write this post, I spotted deer outside my window:



They were snuffling patches of dead leaves, hoping to find a treat or two under the snow. Seeing them always makes me feel calm and reassured. Despite all the chaos in the world, they’re still here, reminding us of what is important. Good timing, because I’d been admiring the deer (as well as other woodland animals) in Peter Yarrow’s new picture book, Day is Done, which features the lyrics to his iconic folk song. The lovely marriage of his words and Melissa Sweet’s pictures calms, comforts, and celebrates the kinship of all living things.

In case it’s been awhile since you’ve heard the song, here’s a lovely version featuring Peter, Paul & Mary, live in Canada (1981):

Day is Done is quite handsome as picture books go, a big hug of a book. Sweet’s lush watercolor and mixed media illustrations of animal families settling down for the night are gorgeous and evocative. Of course Melissa had me at the cover, with the mama bear hugging her cub.

All the parent-child animal pairs (bears, deer, rabbits, raccoons, birds, foxes, field mice), and finally the human father tucking his son into bed, reinforce the song’s promise. Though haunting and melancholy, the lyrics offer a strong message of hope: the innocence, openness, non-judgmental goodness and wisdom of children can inspire and initiate healing. Though it is usually the parent who comforts the child, it is the child who holds the secret to spiritual awakening. 


  (Click to enlarge.)

I love the predominantly green and blue palette — the joyous greens of daytime, growth and renewal, the deep blues of the ocean and night sky. As dusk settles on the countryside, the deep, rich tonal blends in the scenes are simply stunning. Bright accents — fuschia blossoms and holly berries, scarlet mushrooms, magenta lilies, the boy’s fiery red blanket –seem to signal youthful exuberance, the persistence of beauty radiating even in darkness.


 (Click to enlarge.)

The book includes an afterword and a CD featuring Yarrow performing “Day is Done” as well as two bonus songs, “I Know Where I’m Going” and “Dona Dona Dona,” with his daughter, Bethany. A nice intergenerational gift pick perfect for family sharing and sing-a-longs, this one is a welcome balm for holiday stress!

BTW, the deer rooted out a huge stash of acorns Len buried about a month ago. How do animals know how to find these things, especially with snow on the ground? Amazing.

DAY IS DONE
by Peter Yarrow
illustrated by Melissa Sweet
(Sterling, 2009), ages 3-7, 24 pp.
Source of book: Review copy provided by publisher.

Click here to see a video of Peter Yarrow talking about and performing “Day is Done” at Book Expo America this past spring.

Full lyrics of “Day is Done” are here.

Autographed copies are available through Chinaberry.

Diane Mayr at Random Noodling is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup today. Check out the goodies!

*Spreads from Day is Done posted by permission, text copyright © 2009 Peter Yarrow, illustrations © 2009 Melissa Sweet, published by Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2009 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.

52 thoughts on “friday feast: a balm for the soul

  1. Lovely post. The book does look as if it would be a good gift.
    Many years ago we gave a video as a fifth birthday present to our niece: Peter, Paul and Mommy, too. They performed songs especially for kids, in a theatre in the round, with audience participation, like in this one.

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  2. Lovely post. The book does look as if it would be a good gift.
    Many years ago we gave a video as a fifth birthday present to our niece: Peter, Paul and Mommy, too. They performed songs especially for kids, in a theatre in the round, with audience participation, like in this one.

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  3. The lyrics and pictures are, indeed, beyond gorgeous. I’m equally impressed by your interpretations, especially this: “Though it is usually the parent who comforts the child, it is the child who holds the secret to spiritual awakening.”
    I love this post so much. But at the end of the day, that’s my favorite take-away.

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  4. The lyrics and pictures are, indeed, beyond gorgeous. I’m equally impressed by your interpretations, especially this: “Though it is usually the parent who comforts the child, it is the child who holds the secret to spiritual awakening.”
    I love this post so much. But at the end of the day, that’s my favorite take-away.

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  5. I saw Pete Yarrow autographing his “Puff” book at BEA a few years ago–he had the longest lines of anyone at the book fair, including Stephen Colbert and Stephen King! I’m a fool for Melissa Sweet’s art and this book looks wonderful. Thanks again, Jama, for a wonderful review. (Glad to see deer on “our” property–they can smell the nuts).

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  6. I saw Pete Yarrow autographing his “Puff” book at BEA a few years ago–he had the longest lines of anyone at the book fair, including Stephen Colbert and Stephen King! I’m a fool for Melissa Sweet’s art and this book looks wonderful. Thanks again, Jama, for a wonderful review. (Glad to see deer on “our” property–they can smell the nuts).

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  7. Oh, we used to get deer in the behind our old townhouse and it never failed to move and excite me. The idea that these big creatures were hiding in those sparse woods here in surburbia is somehow magical.
    I’m afraid to buy the book because it would hard to resist the urge to tear out that nighttime scene and frame it on my wall. ;^)

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  8. Oh, we used to get deer in the behind our old townhouse and it never failed to move and excite me. The idea that these big creatures were hiding in those sparse woods here in surburbia is somehow magical.
    I’m afraid to buy the book because it would hard to resist the urge to tear out that nighttime scene and frame it on my wall. ;^)

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  9. Those deer photos are fabulous, Jama! I’m glad they found something to eat, and mildly envious that you have snow. We just have cold here, and I’d have liked snow (rather than the ark-building weather we had the other day).

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  10. Those deer photos are fabulous, Jama! I’m glad they found something to eat, and mildly envious that you have snow. We just have cold here, and I’d have liked snow (rather than the ark-building weather we had the other day).

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  11. Elaine M.
    Love the photographs of the deer.
    Melissa was the featured speaker at the fall dinner meeting of our reading council. Her presentation was exceptional. She is one of the best speakers we have ever had. I love her piture book art.

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  12. Elaine M.
    Love the photographs of the deer.
    Melissa was the featured speaker at the fall dinner meeting of our reading council. Her presentation was exceptional. She is one of the best speakers we have ever had. I love her piture book art.

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  13. Thanks, Melodye. Yarrow’s afterword addresses this concept even more. Seems we are born wise, with an innate knowing of what is right — yet somehow we stray from that path as we grow older and become more cynical (and greedy, power-hungry, etc., etc.). Wordsworth said, “The child is the father of the Man.” That purity of spirit is what we should all aspire to . . .

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  14. Thanks, Melodye. Yarrow’s afterword addresses this concept even more. Seems we are born wise, with an innate knowing of what is right — yet somehow we stray from that path as we grow older and become more cynical (and greedy, power-hungry, etc., etc.). Wordsworth said, “The child is the father of the Man.” That purity of spirit is what we should all aspire to . . .

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  15. How exciting. The “Puff” book was a huge success and they’re hoping to repeat that with this new one. I love the idea of Yarrow touring bookstores and singing with the kids. He visited Politics and Prose (I think) not too long ago, but I missed it.
    Even after 10 years, I’m still stunned and moved and amazed whenever I see deer. With all the overbuilding in Fairfax County, it’s miraculous that they’re still around.

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  16. How exciting. The “Puff” book was a huge success and they’re hoping to repeat that with this new one. I love the idea of Yarrow touring bookstores and singing with the kids. He visited Politics and Prose (I think) not too long ago, but I missed it.
    Even after 10 years, I’m still stunned and moved and amazed whenever I see deer. With all the overbuilding in Fairfax County, it’s miraculous that they’re still around.

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  17. Melissa did a fabulous job with the illustrations, as usual. Her colors were especially rich and lush. Since the blue-green combination is my favorite, I’m very partial to her colors here.

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  18. Melissa did a fabulous job with the illustrations, as usual. Her colors were especially rich and lush. Since the blue-green combination is my favorite, I’m very partial to her colors here.

    Like

  19. I’m with you — I’m always moved and excited too. Like you said, with their habitat so sparse, it’s magical that they’ve been able to survive. Just saw another one a little while ago. He thinks he’s a reindeer, though🙂 . . .

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  20. I’m with you — I’m always moved and excited too. Like you said, with their habitat so sparse, it’s magical that they’ve been able to survive. Just saw another one a little while ago. He thinks he’s a reindeer, though🙂 . . .

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  21. Thanks, Kelly. I photographed them through my office window and wished I had a really serious camera with a good zoom lens.
    Our snow didn’t last long, but it was pretty. We’re getting the Noah’s Ark stuff now.

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  22. Thanks, Kelly. I photographed them through my office window and wished I had a really serious camera with a good zoom lens.
    Our snow didn’t last long, but it was pretty. We’re getting the Noah’s Ark stuff now.

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  23. Thanks, Andi. Melissa did such a beautiful job of portraying the animal parents and offspring. Since I live in the woods, I was excited that she included several of my favorite “friends” — deer, foxes, raccoons. We haven’t seen any bears here,though, except for the teddies inside the house.:)

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  24. Thanks, Andi. Melissa did such a beautiful job of portraying the animal parents and offspring. Since I live in the woods, I was excited that she included several of my favorite “friends” — deer, foxes, raccoons. We haven’t seen any bears here,though, except for the teddies inside the house.:)

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  25. This book looks gorgeous! And the song reminds me a little bit, in theme and lyrics, of Billy Joel’s Lullaby, which I absolutely adore.
    I saw deer out the window at a holiday get-together Friday. What a lovely surprise in the middle of a suburban neighborhood. Your post made me remember that and smile!

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  26. This book looks gorgeous! And the song reminds me a little bit, in theme and lyrics, of Billy Joel’s Lullaby, which I absolutely adore.
    I saw deer out the window at a holiday get-together Friday. What a lovely surprise in the middle of a suburban neighborhood. Your post made me remember that and smile!

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  27. I love that LEN is the one who buried the acorns for the deer. Not squirrels: Len.This tells me something more about the man… between him saying “here, fox!” to the foxes and such, and burying things, I’m going to start imagining him with that mountain-man kind of beard and a coonskin cap.

    If he starts having a bear follow him around, look out…

    I think the illustrations in this book are simply frame-able. Lovely.

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    1. LOL! He does love to play in the woods, and gets very excited about all our yard pets. He’d love to have a bear follow him around! Just call me Mrs. Grizzly Adams . . .

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