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SIMPLE GIFTS by Chris Raschka


by Chris Raschka & illustrated by Chris Raschka

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: March 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-8050-5143-0
Publisher: Henry Holt

Raschka continues his exploration of visualized music, in this case the 150-year-old Shaker hymn of the title. This book may not be as esoteric nor contrapuntal as Mysterious Thelonious (1997), but it is just as gorgeously illustrated. Raschka deploys an elegant palette of blue, yellow, brown, green, and red to fashion close-up, boldly outlined images of creatures--cat, rabbit, bird, turtle, etc.--sharing a landscape tangled with flowers and grasses. It’s not too far off the mark to imagine that the great slabs of oil-crayon colors suggest the whirling circle dances of the Shakers, particularly when the hymn is placed in its historical context; there is abundant energy in the artwork, with its undeniable sense of warmth and community. Every spread has a band of color in which Raschka has hand-lettered the words of the song, which is also included with musical notations in an author’s note. (Picture book. 5-9)