Reviews /

The Joy Bringers

Authored by Karin Celestine
Illustrated by Karin Celestine
Published by Graffeg Limited

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On the face of it, the latest of Karin Celestine’s intricately crafted books tells of the sparks of joy brought by the summer light and how these sparks are nurtured, distributed and hidden by the woodland animals to be found later. But the message to the reader is to find and keep sparks of joy and even create more for others to find: these might be memories, a sudden idea, or a sight that warms the heart and raises a smile.

Every double page is a collage of photography of wild places where needle felted animals, embroidery and small treasures of nature carry the tale of the summer solstice and its waning. Grandmother Badger embroiders her wisdom while the tricksy foxes weave baskets to hold the sparks ‘full of inspiration, stories and summer joy’. Moles dig the sparks into the earth so that growing things will bring new pleasures; otters swim the sparks into pools and rivers where they glisten and catch the eye of passers-by; other small animals take the sparks into the human world where they hide them in everyday objects as ‘a small kindness, a thoughtful deed to spark a dream, a keepsake to remember’.

Karin Celestine has the storyteller’s gift of pace, cadence and engagement; it is as though she is speaking to the reader. The language is lyrical and sometimes whimsical, certainly not patronising, and while young readers may focus on the images of small animals as they picnic, play, weave and sew, older readers will find the hidden wisdom of folklore in each page. The whole book is guided by wise Grandmother Badger, shown in the end papers as she waits for the summer and by the end of the season has crafted a quilt holding images of the natural world. As this book celebrates the summer, information pages at the end of the book explain about summer customs of pageants, fires and feasting.