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SEVEN FATHERS by Ashley Ramsden Kirkus Star


adapted by Ashley Ramsden, illustrated by Ed Young

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: April 12th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59643-544-5
Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Storyteller Ramsden retells a Norwegian folktale in his picture-book debut about a winter traveler seeking refuge. The story gradually reveals deeper meaning about ancestral connections, gratitude and spiritual longing as the traveler struggles on until arriving at “a house blazing with lights.” He asks an old man chopping wood for shelter, only to be sent to “the father of the house.” This happens six times, with each man’s father appearing older and older, until he goes from the sixth, who is “so shrunken he was no bigger than a baby,” to encounter “a little speck of dust.” A voice “as tiny as a titmouse” at last welcomes him, and a great feast follows, with all seven fathers transformed into young, crowned men. As he settles into “a gracious bed, covered in reindeer hide,” he gives thanks, and readers behold a rainbow incorporating the colors of the crowned fathers’ robes. Young’s exquisite collages are rendered on brown-paper backgrounds similar to those in the illustrator's Hook (2009); they incorporate paper, photographs and paint, all delineated with swift ink strokes. Playful elements add meaning: The final father is found on a horn that is filled in with an aerial photograph of a modern subdivision. Stunning in its execution, the artwork elevates this graceful tale to new heights, delivering an original, thought-provoking addition to folktale collections. (Picture book/folktale. 4-8)