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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Circle Game, written by Joni Mitchell and illustrated by Brian Dienes. Dancing Cat Books. 2011. $20.00 all ages

"And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down.
We can't return, we can only look behind from where we came,
And go round and round and round in the circle game." 

Well, if you were graduating high school in the late 1960s as I was, this would have been one of the songs that found constant play on the radio. It became a bit of an anthem for those of us who were doing our best to look forward and move on with our lives. 

Brian Deines' remarkable images give it new life and provide an introduction to the lovely lyrics created so long ago. If you don't have a copy of it in your own music library, try YouTube or Itunes to find a version to share with your listeners. Having the chance to hear Joni Mitchell sing it while you read it together is such a special experience. As with many folk songs, the words in the performance and the words printed in the text of the book are not the same...but, they are similar enough to keep the message strong.

In twelve double-page illustrations the artist shows a young boy's journey through life...the central theme of Miss Mitchell's  memorable and much-loved song. He is captive on the carousel and life moves along with him. The backgrounds change from light to dark, showing the passing of the days and nights of his life. 

There is little to say about the song itself, already familiar to so many. It is Deines' interpretation that makes it come alive once more. At the end, readers learn about the songwriter, her life and her many important contributions to music and the Canadian culture. There is also information shared about the artist and his many successes in the art world.  

 I wouldn't even mind singing it myself...but that might make it a lot less pleasureable for the captive audience. But, I am pleased that I remember those words so well!  

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