________________ CM . . . . Volume IV Number 2 . . . . September 19, 1997

cover Amazing Grace: The Story of the Hymn.

Linda Granfield. Illustrated by Janet Wilson.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 1997.
Unpaged, board, $17.95.
ISBN 0-88776-389-8.

Subject Headings:
Newton, John, 1725-1807-Juvenile literature.
Clergy-England-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Slave traders-England-Biography-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4 and up / Ages 9 and up.
Review by Dave Jenkinson.

**** /4


"The ship I was on board as a passenger was on a trading voyage for gold, ivory, dyers wood and bees wax. We were off the coast of Newfoundland. On these banks we stopped half a day to fish for cod. I went to bed that night in my usual security and indifference, but was awakened from a sound sleep by the force of a violent sea which broke on board us; so much of it came down below as filled the cabin I lay in with water. This alarm was followed by a cry from the deck, that the ship was going down or sinking. The sea had torn away the upper timbers on one side. It was astonishing, and almost miraculous, that any of us survived to relate the story. We had but eleven or twelve people to bale the water with buckets and pails."
image The creative duo that produced In Flanders Fields: The Story of the Poem by John McCrae are back with another stunning offering. From its engaging full-colour cover to its informative map endpapers, Amazing Grace is a superlative example of bookmaking and design. Despite the book's limited length, Granfield's text provides more than adequate information about the life of the hymn's author, the eighteenth century slave ship captain and cleric, John Newton, and the dramatic March 24, 1748, happening which rekindled his religious belief. As well, Granfield also offers many details about the period's flourishing slave trade and the conditions faced by both captives and their seafaring captors. While "Amazing Grace" initially appeared as Hymn 41 in Newton's 1771 collection, Olney Hymns, it did not achieve any fame during his lifetime. Granfield also explains that the story behind the music which is associated the words is much debated. Wilson's dramatic full-page oil illustrations capture the action and emotions of the text and are complemented by her smaller black and white decorative drawings which are scattered throughout the book. The hymn's words and music are also supplied.

      Despite the book's outward picturebook appearance, its contents are for a more mature audience of grade 4+. Church libraries, as well as school and public libraries, need to make Amazing Grace a "must" purchase!

Highly recommended.

Dave Jenkinson teaches children's and adolescent literature courses at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © 1997 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364