Saturday, 20 August 2011

For All Creatures

For All Creatures For All Creatures by Glenda Millard, illustrated by Rebecca Cool (Walker Books)
HB RRP $29.95
ISBN 9781921529818
Reviewed by Vicki Stanton

For All Creatures is an outstanding book of gratitude for the gifts of nature. The vibrant cover, filled with Rebecca Cool’s distinctive illustrations in her bold, naïve style, compelled me to select it first from the pile to be reviewed. Open the book and endpapers burst with colour and images of animals, people, and flowers. It bursts with joy. I was in love with For All Creatures before I even reached the title page.

Glenda Millard’s mastery of the English language is unsurpassed. Her text is lyrical, yet her word choices are also challenging with such inclusions as metamorphosis, nonchalance and quagmire. This is definitely a story to be read with children, perfect to be shared, and one that will become a classic.

I loved how Millard began For All Creatures with one of the non-favourites of the animal kingdom – spiders. She shows us the beauty in all animals.

For weavers and wisps.
For silk spinners and spiderlings,
lace and loveliness
and for webs, we are thankful.

Each double spread finishes with the phrase ‘we are thankful’. Animals from throughout the world and Australia are included; there are amphibians and snails (with their ‘scribbled silver secrets’), birds and insects, mammals small and large. Millard always surprises with her use of language. We are thankful for the ‘upsidedownness’ of bats and the ‘fleas and fingers’ of monkeys.

There are also people, young and old. Textually, this double spread is my favourite. On the left is the young family who ‘wish and wonder and wait’ for their new child, while on the right, we read of the love and tenderness that comes with age.

Cool’s illustrations lift the text to an even higher plane. Each spread is a work of art. My personal favourite is the butterflies, with the contrasting greens and oranges.

Glenda Millard and Rebecca Cool previously collaborated on the award-winning Isabella’s Garden. This new offering must surely reap a swag of awards, too.

For All Creatures reminds us that our world is a wonderful tapestry. Share this book of joy and wonderment with the children in your life. 

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