Sunday, February 27, 2011
Singing Away the Dark, written by Caroline Woodward and illustrated by Julie Morstad. Simply Read,
"The cattle block the
The bull is munching
I softly sing to calm
myself and plan the
Haven't we all heard the stories from parents, and sometimes grandparents, about our great good luck in not having to walk to school in the dead of winter...at least a mile, in thigh-high snow and UPHILL all the way! Why, I think I have even tried to convince my kids that it happened to me; but, they know exactly how far it was for me to walk to George Fitton, McLaren and Harrison...no more than five city blocks!
I didn't have to walk a mile to catch a school bus, when the cold winds blew and the snow was piled high. But, many children did and some still walk long lanes to get to the bus stop early in the morning. I wonder how many of them feel like the young girl in this lovely, wintry tale. When she leaves home, it's dark and there are many sights and sounds that cause her to be anxious. The warmth of the house is lost to the cold, icy weather that surrounds her. She knows she must hurry for the bus will not wait, and she has a mile to go.
As she walks she makes the discovery that singing helps to calm her fears.
" I sing for sun, I sing for strength, I sing for warm toes, too."
The singing serves to diminish the early morning animal sounds, the creaking of the tree branches, and makes the darkness fade away. Her trek is timed perfectly...she reaches the road as the bus rolls into sight. Ah, another day of school with her friends.
The lilting verse perfectly voices her fears and her wonder at the daily journey. Julie Morstad's soft watercolor illustrations provide a flawless backdrop. She uses the bright white of the snow to lessen the deep dark of the winter sky, and reds and yellow to keep us ever watchful of our narrator as she makes her way from home to bus. She is never out of our sight. The animals and trees are in silhouette as she passes, until her singing brings warmth and color to the darkness. The farmer out early to feed his stock and her neighbor's welcome wave lend a protective quality to her daily foray into this wintry wonderland. The familiarity of the warm yellow bus with its bright lights bring a sigh of relief...for all.