All Thought The Night by John Ceiriog Hughes
|All Thought The Night by John Ceiriog Hughes|
|Category: For Sharing|
|Reviewer: Lorraine McDonald|
|Summary: A traditional Welsh lullaby, accompanied by whimsical illustrations, to send little ones off to the land of nod.|
|Buy? No||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 24||Date: December 2012|
|Publisher: Simply Read Books|
‘All Through the Night’ is based on a choral staple, beloved of male voice choirs across the world. It’s an interesting and intriguing choice of verse to interpret as an illustrated children’s book. Many children need some reassurance as they head to bed at night, but does this publication work as a book to share to send them to sleep?
The picture book ‘All Through the Night’ takes an English translation of the traditional Welsh lullaby of the same name, and presents the twenty four lines in traditional story book style, two at a time with a picture opposite. There is no story, or characters, as such, rather, this is a verse that describes night passing and reassures a child that they will be safe and protected.
The words to ‘All Through the Night’ have a particular significance in Welsh culture. There are numerous translations that interpret the original Welsh verse in to English. The 19th century translation, by John Ceirog Hughes, used here emphasises spiritual elements. This theme is reflected in the illustrations. The religious references will be a reason for some families to embrace this book and a reason for others to be alienated by it.
The illustrations bring a loose storyline to the verse, of a mother putting her child to bed. Painted in watercolour with no hard lines, this is a fey style. Mainly in muted and calming blues and greys, the artwork depicts the mother and child, countryside scenes and angels. Some of the sentences the pictures accompany, for example ‘breathes a pure and holy feeling’, must have presented quite a challenge to illustrate. A couple of the resulting paintings might be difficult to explain to a child and connect to the words.
I really wanted to like this picture book as the concept of blending modern illustrations with a classic lullaby is creative and original. However, there are some shortcomings that meant that ‘All Through the Night’ didn’t work for me as a book to share. This is a very short lullaby and a very quick read – not enough to send my little boy to sleep. Spread across even a modest twelve double pages, splitting the text two lines per double page breaks it down to the extent that reading aloud is disjointed. The rhythm of the lullaby is soothing and relaxing if read continuously. Presenting the lines two by two with a picture opposite not only misses an opportunity to have some interplay between the text and illustrations, it disrupts the flow and loses the soporific effect. This makes for an awkward recital especially if a child wants to inspect the pictures for longer than reading the two lines on the opposite page affords. Given that the actual meaning of the lines is likely too abstract for a child to grasp, it’s a shame that the continuity is disturbed in this way.
For me, ‘All Through the Night’ didn’t gel as a picture book. However, despite my personal misgivings, I am sure this book will find a special place in the bedtime routine of families for whom the words have cultural or spiritual significance.
For more bedtime reads we can recommend:
You can read more book reviews or buy All Thought The Night by John Ceiriog Hughes at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy All Thought The Night by John Ceiriog Hughes at Amazon.com.
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