Roaring Brook Press, $16.99, 32 pages
When a cold and weary traveler fears he has taken his last step in a ferocious blizzard, a house blazing with lights appears before him. An old man on the porch tells him he must speak to his father, an even older man inside the house, to see if a room is available. In Seven Fathers, author Ashley Ramsden retells a traditional Norwegian folktale that has been passed down and shared amongst storytellers for generations.
When the traveler asks that man, he is directed to yet another older man. He meets seven fathers and the oldest one reveals a glorious surprise. Caldecott Medalist Ed Young illustrates the traveler’s tale using a cut paper collage technique. Cut and torn paper prints and patterns, mixed with paint, ink and pastels complement Ramsden’s text. The reader can only guess where the traveler has come from and where he is headed, but the story’s focus is on his need for one night’s rest and the men he meets along the way. While marketed as a children’s book, adults will be drawn to its spiritual nature. Young readers will likely need some guidance in understanding the bigger themes.
Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin