Review: Brother Sun, Sister Moon by Katherine Paterson

brother sun sister moon

Brother Sun, Sister Moon: Saint Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Creatures by Katherine Paterson, illustrated by Pamela Dalton

Acclaimed author, Katherine Paterson has reworked a hymn of praise first said by Saint Francis of Assisi.  It praises God for our Brother Sun, Sister Moon, and Sister Stars.  Brother Wind and Brother Air are praised for being both harsh and mild.  Sister Water is thanked for being life-giving and Brother Fire is thanked for both warmth and playfulness.  The song of praise moves through Death as well, thanking God for the days we are given and the love that we are ushered into at death.  It is a universal prayer made joyous through Paterson’s changes to Saint Francis’ original version, which is included at the end of the book.

The delicacy of Paterson’s writing is not apparent until her words are compared with the original.  She has carefully teased deeper meaning from his words.  At the same times she has made them more appropriate for young readers and listeners.  The hymn of praise sings as she has written it, endowed with a new grace thanks to her skill.

Dalton’s illustrations are simply exquisite.  Using a cut paper technique that involves delicate knife work, watercolor painting, and then a process of being steeped in coffee, the result is luminous yet rustic.  It suits this subject matter perfectly, managing to be beautiful but not too lofty.

This is a magnificent selection for libraries’ religious shelves, one that will speak to people of many faiths and is phenomenally appealing and beautiful.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.

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You can see Dalton create her art in the video below:

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