________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 17 . . . . April 25, 2003

cover A Grain of Sand.

P.K. Page. Illustrated by Vladyana Krykorka.
Toronto, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2003.
32 pp., cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 1-55041-801-7.

Grade 5 and up / Ages 10 and up.

Review by Valerie Nielsen.

**** /4


To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour.

William Blake's famous lines from his Auguries of Innocence, written in 1794, provide the springboard for a lyrical celebration of childhood imagination by well-loved Canadian poet P.K. Page. In A Grain of Sand, the poet follows the form of Blake's poem by using a series of rhyming couplets. She is true to the spirit of a poet who looked beyond the world of the senses to find spiritual significance. Blake's notion that every object or event pointed beyond itself to a transcendental meaning is woven into Page's poem. Thus "a child on a beach on a summer day/with time to idle the heavens away" is able to see a World in a grain of sand, and by seeing "in a daisy in the grass/angels and archangels pass," experiences Heaven in a wild flower.

internal art

     P.K. Page is one of Canada's best-known and honored poets. She is not only an award-winning poet, but she is also an artist who has received international recognition for her drawings and paintings. She is the author of three illustrated children's books, including a delightful rendition of The Bremen Town Musicians (The Traveling Musicians, 1991) illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton, and originally written as a narrative for a piece of music by Harry Adaskin.

     Vladyana Krykorka is a versatile and gifted artist who has illustrated over 20 children's picture books, including Northern Lights-The Soccer Trails and Baseball Bats for Christmas, both of which won the Ruth Schwartz Award. Her luminous watercolor paintings, each infused with a presence of the imaginary, provide a perfect complement to the poetic text of A Grain of Sand. Following Blake's concern with the representation of eternal things in terms of their earthly symbols, poet and artist have produced a beautiful tapestry of words and colours.

     In a note at the end of the book, the reader discovers that A Grain of Sand was written at the request of composer Dr. Derek Holman for his oratorio. It was performed in 2000 at Roy Thompson Hall by the Toronto Children's Chorus, the Mendelssohn Choir and the Toronto Symphony Choir.

     A Grain of Sand is a handsomely bound and illustrated book, although at $19.95 it might be considered too expensive a purchase for an elementary school library. The strength of this slim volume, however, lies not only in the beauty of its illustrations but also in its faithfulness to Blake's ideas of the universe. Adults who appreciate these qualities will enjoy sharing this unique book with young readers.

Highly Recommended.

A retired teacher-librarian, Valerie Nielsen lives in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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