The Sun is a Shine
The Sun is a Shine
The wind is a whisper
That teases the leaves,
Dances the sea
And sets the kite free.
Shukran, we call to the big blue sky
And wish on the wind as it passes by.
The Sun is a Shine is absolutely delightful from start to finish. I don’t think I could determine which is more powerful, the text or the illustrations, as the marriage of these two elements unquestioningly creates a whole that is greater than its parts. Readers witness diverse characters mindfully engaging with common weather phenomena around the globe and at differing times of the year. Each encounter involves an expression of respect and gratitude for nature in a variety of languages from around the world. A full explanation at the end of the book is provided, delineating from which languages each ‘thank you’ is derived, which cultural groups typically speak each of the languages, and where the languages are often spoken geographically.
Leslie A. Davidson’s wonderful poetry follows an ABCC DD rhyming scheme on each independent double-page spread. While the rhymes are clearly present and consistent, the poem does not feel restricted by them. Davidson brings each natural phenomenon to life with her calm but powerful word selection, and description and action are equally represented.
Slavka Kolesar’s illustrations are soft and gentle, a perfect match for Davidson’s text. Kolesar uses a full palate of colours in subdued tones. Her lines are soft and flowing, and she depicts characters in respectful gender-neutral forms. A real sense of quiet, natural beauty is visually encapsulated in each double-page spread. Characters engage with each natural phenomenon with a reverent sense of awe and wonderment for nature. The overarching message is clear; nature is not to be feared by humans but observed and appreciated. The disparate scenes are brought together at the end when Kolesar uses characters from throughout the book in the final scene.
While I think that the board book format is suitable since the durability it provides will enable this book to be enjoyed by parents and their really young book-lovers (i.e. babies and toddlers), I also believe that it could be wonderful in a larger picture book format for sharing and reading aloud to younger primary grades. A board book often carries the connotation (rightly or wrongly) that it is only intended for babies. Kindergarten students might find a picture book format more appealing to read. Either way, the subject matter and the accessibility of text and images are appropriate for readers big and small.
Librarians will want to have The Sun is a Shine on hand for early literacy programs, and teachers could use this book to prepare their students for Earth Day celebrations or to open discussions on the concept of gratitude. This is truly a wonderful book and well-worth adding to any home, classroom, or library collection.
Dorothea Wilson-Scorgie has completed her MLIS degree at the University of Alberta and her MA degree in Children’s Literature at the University of British Columbia. She is a member of the Victoria Children’s Literature Roundtable steering committee, works at as a teacher-librarian, and resides in Victoria, British Columbia, with her husband and their two children.