In 1225, Saint Francis of Assisi (1182-1226)--Italian founder of the Franciscan order of monks and a notorious nature lover--wrote "The Canticle of the Sun," an incantatory hymn of praise for all creation. Poet Reeve Lindbergh--daughter of aviator Charles Lindbergh and poet Anne Morrow Lindbergh--has gently respun part of this work in the stunning picture book The Circle of Days. A celebration of air, water, fire, earth, and life itself, this mesmerizing hymn begins, "Lord, we offer thanks and praise / For the circle of our days. / Praise for radiant brother sun, / Who makes the hours around us run."
We take our hats off to artist Cathie Felstead, illustrator of A Caribbean Dozen, who with watercolor, gouache, and collage, has created some of the most breathtaking land, sky, and seascapes we've ever seen. With a remarkable use of color and cut paper, we witness the change of seasons, the scuttling of crabs, a skyful of fireworks, and moonlit cows. As an artist, she says she responded to the simple poem because, "Saint Francis took pleasure in the world with a childlike directness. He is the kind of saint whose words reach out to everyone." Youngsters will be soothed by the simple rhythm of the poem, and there's no better way to celebrate the wonders of our planet than with the graceful beauty of Felstead's unforgettable paintings. (Click to see a sample spread. Illustrations © 1998 by Cathie Felstead. Permission by Candlewick Press.) (All ages)