Newbery Medalist Rylant continues her series of simplified Bible verse interpretations with this illustrated version of the familiar “to everything there is a season” text, adapted from the King James version of the book of Ecclesiastes.
Rylant’s illustrations are bold and minimalist, with an understated simplicity and a naïve, folk-art sensibility. The striking cover shows a cozy, white house against a lavender background, with a huge sunflower sprouting up almost to the roofline. The acrylic paintings use broad brushstrokes for grass and skies, with a green-budding tree symbolizing “a time to be born” and falling autumn leaves for “a time to die.” A fair-skinned child is shown working in a raised garden bed for “a time to plant” and then delivering flowers to an older white woman with gray hair on the following spread. The illustration for “a time to weep” shows a dark-skinned mother and daughter waving farewell to a departing father; “a time to laugh” depicts the joyous reunion of father and child. That pair of illustrations conveys its own little story that even very young children will immediately recognize. War is conveyed by two bucks battling with locked antlers, and peace is a cow grazing contentedly. Each pair of illustrations is thoughtfully designed and composed, with just enough visual information to convey each concept.
A lovely, quiet interpretation of some of the most famous verses from the Old Testament, one that will last through many seasons. (Picture book/religion. 2-7)