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bp Nichol
Illustrated by Simon Ng
Red Deer (Alta.), Red Deer College Press, 1991. 22pp. cloth, $14.95
ISBN 0-88995-076-8. (Northern Lights Books for Children). Distributed by Raincoast Books. C1P

Pre-school to Grade 2/Ages 3 to 7

Reviewed by Maryleah Otto

Volume 20 Number 3
1992 May

To listen to the words and the rhythms of the late bp Nichol's On the Merry-Go-Round is to hear the sweet, pure voice of faerie. The text is a poetic lullaby in four stanzas. In each verse, "silence" is the essential element, and it is in this soundless, dreamy world of carousel creatures that the magic exists.

First we meet the horse, riding far and high "to the edge of the sky" with a sleepy child on her back. Next comes the dog, and the child now rides to the moon and back. And then the deer, running on "so long" and "so light" that the child can "ride to the edge of night." Finally, the child imagines that she becomes each of the animals in turn, and silently she rides "into sleep."

Simon Ng shows us Nichol's lullaby just as a child might imagine it. Each scene is a full-colour painting, part real, part fantasy. The lines are always soft, the hues nocturnal. Ng has chosen a girl for the child. She has long, reddish hair, dark eyes and light brown skin. !n the final stanza, where she likens herself to the animals, she is shown running, skipping rope, and riding a bicycle.

The last painting is the book's crowning glory. The child, whose face is exquisitely lovely here, is seen asleep, not in a bed, but like a giant in the midst of Nature, with the green earth for a blanket where fields, trees and streams are tucked easily into the folds. On her feel stands the dog in miniature, on her shoulder, the horse, and at her knee, the deer. Above, in the dark sky, the moon, stars and planets follow their destiny. And on her bedside table sits an empty toy carousel. A treasure, possibly a future classic.

Maryleah Otto, St. Thomas Public Library, St. Thomas, Ont.

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1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


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