Wednesday, September 28, 2016

September Spotlight on #OwnVoices: We Sang You Home

by Richard Van Camp. Illustrated by Julie Flett. Orca Books, 2016. ISBN 978-1-4598-1178-2  Click to preorder

The same team who brought us Little You has created another beautiful board book that celebrates a new baby. 

Richard Van Camp, a member of the Dogrib (Tlicho) Nation, has a special gift for writing short but eloquent board book texts aimed at the very youngest of listeners (and their parents).  The second person narrative here is the voice of parents speaking to their infant: 

We sang you from a wish
We sang you from a prayer
We sang you home
and you sang back...

The words are simple yet sophisticated in their meaning as they communicate the unconditional love parents feel for their child. They also communicate a deep respect for the child, something you don't often see in picture books when a parent speaks to a child. 

Thank you for joining us
Thank you for choosing us
Thank you for becoming
the best of all of us

It's as comforting as a lullabye and the elegant illustrations by Cree-Metis artist, Julie Flett, complement Van Camp's text perfectly. They initially show a mom and dad sitting outside, singing up to the sky. Next we see them with a tiny baby in a carrier, watching a flock of birds move across the sky. Succeeding pages show the baby growing just a bit older until he or she is crawling. And the final wordless page the parents in the same outdoor setting as the first page, this time the baby is joining them in their singing to the sky. A sibling on the way, perhaps? Or just a song of thanks. 

If you haven't yet added the Van Camp/Flett board books to your go-to list of new-baby presents yet, this would be a good time to do so. After all, how many copies of Goodnight Moon does one family need?  Little You and We Sang You Home would make welcome baby gift.  They should also be basic purchases for all libraries serving young children.

Reviewed by KT Horning

See Debbie Reese's review at AICL 

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