Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Review: This Little Light of Mine

Traditional African-American Spiritual, illustrated by E. B. Lewis. We had this book at our school book fair last week and I fell in love with it. The text is the traditional song and as I stood there browsing the books I had the chorus running through my head.

It made me smile to remember a little boy I knew when Buster, my 20 year old son was a baby. Junior is grown now and a daddy to his own daughter, but when he was four years old he hated that song. We used to sing it loudly through the house just to get a rise out of him. He would wait till we paused for breath and shout "Junior light ain't gonna shine! Junior light ain't gonna shine!" We would bust up laughing until he gave in and joined us. I trust his light is shining strong now, whatever comes his way.

E. B. Lewis is the award winning illustrator of a long list of stunning picture books, including Jacquline Woodson's Coming On Home Soon, Margot Theis Ravin's Circle Unbroken, Gavin Curtis's The Bat Boy and His Violin, and Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard's Virgie Goes to School With us Boys. I just adore the grace and beauty he depicts in his characters. So many of the newer picture books done by others have a style that makes human faces caricatures with a jarring tone. Lewis' natural, realistic style shows love and respect for the children he paints and it shines out of them. I want to surround my own children with these positive stories and their illuminated faces.

In This Little Light of Mine the illustrations carry the story of a young boy in a loving family. He eats breakfast with his mom and goes out to play ball with his buddies. He greets the people sitting out in front of the shops on the street and finds another boy sitting alone, looking sad. He makes friends with him and invites him to play ball with the group. The sad boy recieves his light and joy begins to fill his face. At the end of the afternoon the new boy goes off with the group while our friend returns to his family for a joyful dinner. All through the day of this boy's song is about sharing the light and protecting his spirit from harm. The kindness and gentleness of his spreading light fills the book with sweetness. He reminds me of my own sons and the eagerness of their love. I have this book on my Christmas list and I look forward to reading it over and over with my sons. I highly recommend it to everyone!


Anonymous said...

This looks just lovely...

Charlotte said...

I second Liz's comments, and add this to my list of books to look for.