________________ CM . . . . Volume IV Number 9 . . . . January 2, 1998

cover Silent Night: The Song from Heaven.

Linda Granfield. Illustrated by Nelly and Ernst Hofer.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 1997.
24 pp., hardcover, $17.99.
ISBN 0-88776-395-2.

Subject Headings:
Mohr, Joseph, 1792-1848. Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht.
Gruber, Franz Xaver, 1787-1863. Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht.

Preschool and up / Ages 4 and up.
Review by Dave Jenkinson.

**** /4



Oberndorf, Austria

HANS AND MARIA, coated and capped, hurry through the icy cobbled streets to the Church of St. Nicola. It is the day before Christmas, and all the villagers are preparing for the holiday. Travelers swaddled in heavy woolen clothing shout happy greetings to one another as they drive their sleighs over the snowy roads. The air is tangy with the rich aromas of baked pies and fresh fish for Christmas Eve. Best of all, it is the time to build the Christmas creche.

Granfield, author of Amazing Grace: the Story of the Hymn and In Flanders Fields: The Story of the Poem by John McCrae, turns her hand to the creation of another hymn, the beloved "Silent Night." The book's text can be divided into three parts. The first seven pages consist of a fictional narrative in which two children assist in assembling the manger scene in the Church of St. Nicola at Christmas in 1818. This portion concludes as the church's priest, Father Mohr, announces that midnight mass will have to be different this year as the church organ is not functioning.

      The next four pages explain the circumstances under which the hymn, "Silent Night," originally known as "The Song from Heaven," and its music were created by Father Mohr and the church organist, Franz Gruber, and how the song spread world-wide before its creators were identified in 1854. Further anecdotes about the song's impact are also included.

      The book is illustrated throughout by "scherenschnitt" or silhouettes, an art form appropriate to the period of the hymn's creation. The final brief text section explains how artists using extremely sharp, tiny-bladed scissors create these magnificently detailed illustrations from a single piece of paper.

      The story portion of Silent Night can be shared with young children who will also delight in the golden silhoutte scenes which are mounted on dark chocolate brown paper. Older readers will appreciate the book's factual information which relates to the hymn's creation and the silhouette medium. A book for all types of libraries plus home collections.

Highly recommended.

Dave Jenkinson teaches children's and adolescent literature in the Faculty of Education.

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

Copyright © 1998 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