Monday, July 14, 2008
At Break of Day, written by Nikki Grimes and illustrated by Paul Morin, is a fictionalized version of the Creation story, written like a conversation between two people, a father and his son. It begins, “Once upon a time there was no time. There was no earth, or sky, or sea. There was only darkness and the waters of the deep and a father and son who watched over them.”
The story continues: “The son, knowing exactly what was in his father’s heart, asked, ”Now, Father?” And the father said, “Yes, Son. Now.” Then the son leaned over the darkness and softly blew over the waters. The darkness swirled as though a giant finger had dipped into it and given it a stir. And that’s how the universe began.”
In this version, the universe is being created by the son while the father watches and approves. The story continues as the universe is created according to the Bible story: The father and son use six days to create the universe and then, on the seventh day, they rest.
The story references the Scripture, but not the book of Genesis, as expected. Instead, the Biblical reference is from Hebrews 1:1-2, which reads: “Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds.” [New Revised Standard Version]
The illustrations are a mixed bag of media forms, with some of the pages looking like they were painted and some looking like they were fashioned from bits of fabric. The artist uses bold colors and an assortment of textures to illustrate the text on double-page spreads throughout the book.
What I Like: I like the artwork; it’s vibrant and original. I also like the idea of a traditional Bible story being told from a different perspective.
What I Dislike: However, having said that, I don’t like the story beginning with the words “Once upon a time,” as that invokes images of a fairy tale, not a story depicting the Creation of the universe. I am also uncomfortable with the idea of both the father and the son creating the universe together. This is in conflict with the traditional Biblical version of Creation. One reviewer of this book, whose review I read elsewhere, insisted that the Bible verse, John 1:3, states the Son (Jesus) was present at the time of Creation. I don’t agree with that view, and I haven’t found any evidence to back it up, so that perspective bothers me, and it will probably bother other people who hold traditional Christian views on Biblical topics.
Overall Rating: Because of the things I don’t like about the book, I will give it a “Ho- Hum” rating.
Age Appeal: 4-8.
Publisher Info: Eerdman’s Books for Young Readers, 1999; ISBN: 0802851045; Hardcover: $17.00.
Special Info: Visit the author’s website.