In a lovely picture book “sleeper” called To Everything There is a Season, illustrator Jude Daly breathes visual life into the wistful words of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.
The book opens with a full-page spread of a little house that stands throughout the four seasons of life. Like a foreshadowing of things to come, the spread is divided into four pieces (like slicing half a pie) and readers see, at-a-glance, the vibrancy of the house in the spring, the bustle of the summer, the sparseness of the fall, and the emptiness and loneliness of the winter.
From there, the pictures explain in more visual detail, what real life is like. In “a time to be born”, a house in the foreground shows a happy little family with a child and a dog. In the background is an older house with an old man–possibly a relative–who goes about his day with his walking stick in his hand, and followed closely by his lone cow.
But on the next page it is “a time to die.” Suddenly, the old man is nowhere to be seen, the house has a big “X” splashed across the door, and the cow lies grieving under the stars.
The book goes on to show things that happen when it is “a time to plant, a time to pluck up that which is planted,” and so forth. There is also a quite moving picture when it is “a time to heal”; when the young family takes in the grieving cow, gives it food and love, and revives its desire to live.
As time moves on, it is “a time to break down and a time to build up,” when the young family tears down dilapidated portions of the old man’s house, then repairs and repaints it.
This book is beautiful in a wistful, almost haunting way because it realistically depicts the happiness-sadness and stark unpredictability of life. The illustrations are done in soft pastels, and though there are no close-ups so that readers can see faces and smiles and tears, there is always a sort of jubilation in every single illustrations.
This book is highly recommended as a potential addition to your multicultural book collection.