CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 2 . . . . September 14, 2007
Tundra Books’ picture book version of Psalm 23, The Lord is My Shepherd, is a beautiful book. Regolo Ricci is to be congratulated for the manner in which his lavishly colourful watercolour paintings provide a delightful accompaniment to the well-known, much-loved, text.
Ricci’s artwork is reminiscent of the illuminated manuscripts monks created when working with the Bible in the Middle Ages. The attached cloth bookmark and the gold edges of the pages also contribute to the attractive and “Biblical” appearance of the book.
Ricci has skillfully incorporated into his artwork Canadian wildlife and domesticated farm animals that might be seen in a rural Canadian setting. Within the swirls of the page borders, one can readily identify an American Wood Duck, Common Loon, Belted Kingfisher, Eastern Bluebird, Red-Breasted Nuthatch, Blue Jay, Barn Swallow, and many other beautiful birds we might be fortunate enough to happen across during a stroll in nature.
As one progresses through the book, the passage of the seasons is reflected in the main illustrations. From the colourful blossoms of springtime, through a summer electrical storm, the rust colours of fall, and the snows of winter, Ricci portrays the vibrancy of life and the innumerable things that help us to recognize the majesty of Creation. In addition, the depiction of the changing seasons is also suggestive of a Lord that can forever be by our sides, regardless of time. Ricci’s illustrations also provide an ideal companion the text in other ways. When the Lord “leadeth me in the paths of righteousness,” a mother raccoon is depicted leading her offspring over a fallen log bridge over a stream. When “I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” a Turkey Vulture looks down from a dead tree limb. When the Lord “preparest a table before me,” a family of black bears are shown digging honey from a tree stump hive. There are many other instances where Ricci has carefully and cleverly married his artwork to the text.
The Psalm 23 text is based on that of the King James Version of the Bible. The inside dust jacket poster-like spread features the text in whole, without the interruption of having to turn the pages, and is another of the many attractive book features.
Gregory Bryan teaches children’s literature in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.