THE TALE OF JOHN BARLEYCORN by Mary--Illus. Azarian

THE TALE OF JOHN BARLEYCORN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The creator of A Farmer's Alphabet (1981) has done it again--differently and in some respects better. Youngsters may need some help in comprehending that this is the ballad of a grain of barley, and that these are the steps in making beer; some adults may even need some help in reading the antique calligraphy. But Azarian the woodcut artist imagines these scenes so clearly and cleverly, and depicts them with so much humor and punch, that one wants to know what's going on when ""they bury him within the earth"" or prick him ""to the heart""--plain, strong, inviting words too. The pages are handsomely bordered in black-and-plum and there are also cunning decorated letters (a fish peddler, a juggler, a beekeeper, etc.) to pore over in the text. This is traditional woodcut-making of a high order, incorporating modern and Oriental compositional stratagems for visual and storytelling range. Librarians should be advised, however, that the introductory matter includes a recipe for making beer at home and the expressed hope ""that the singing of the song and the brewing of beer will both survive as homely arts."" As an example of the bookmaking art, though, an outfight winner.

Pub Date: Jan. 26th, 1982
Publisher: Godine