A little Caucasian boy and girl in 19th-century garb enact the familiar song.
The song unfolds on the verso while on the recto, each gift is presented within an ornate frame that grows and changes shape from day to day. Pham gives readers plenty to look at. On the third day, while the girl accepts the three French hens, the little boy shoos away one of the turtledoves; on the fifth day, the little girl gazes at the five finches bearing five rings, while the little boy tries to keep one of the six geese a-laying from arriving too early. The artist paints different varieties of hens, geese and swans, preparing readers for the truly multicultural spreads that begin on the eighth day. The maids a-milking come from all corners of the globe in variations on traditional dress, as do the rest of the humans. Among the lords a-leaping are a bearded Cossack, a turbaned rajah, a Georgian gentleman and two lords from different African cultures. The pipers include, with a little bit of artistic license, a man in Tyrolean dress playing an alpenhorn. One final spread crams all 78 gifts into two pages as the little girl kisses the goggle-eyed boy. (All 78 also appear on the reverse of the jacket, which unfolds into a poster.) The final two pages provide background on Epiphany and the origins of the song.
A joyous visual feast. (Picture book. 3-7)