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The Night Rainbow Hardcover – March 1, 2000

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 and up
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic; First Edition edition (March 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 053130244X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0531302446
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 9.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,069,036 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Despite its shimmering paintings and elegant metaphors about the northern lights, this unusual book from the team behind The Star Maiden proves confusing. The late Esbensen's long poem combines exquisite descriptions of the aurora borealis with references to the legends of various northern peoples in such a complex, fragmentary way that her narrative does not achieve unity, leaving many passages begging for explication. The book does include a note explaining why Esbensen wrote the poem, and four pages of back matter (a list of forms the aurora takes, an essay about its legends and scientific background). However, many sequences in the poem either lack transitions or require prior knowledge for understanding. For example, the poet dreams of Inuit children who shout (in an allusion explained only in an appended essay), "We call out in our dreams,/ Kick the ball of light,/ Ancestors of Ancestors! Kick/ the whirling walrus head." Davie's pastel and gouache illustrations, on the other hand, impart a sense of the "wonderment" Esbensen describes, combining skyscapes with images from the legends which inspired them. White light appears to etch the shape of geese from old Norse tales, and "the breath of ghostly/ Hungarian horses" materializes in Davie's art like frost on a windowpane--but even these splendid illustrations do not clarify the muddled text. Ages 5-9. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-6-An evocation of the human response to the aurora borealis. Esbensen's poetry invites readers to consider the northern lights and the myths and legends that peoples have created in their honor over the ages. Musquakie, Finnish, Ottawa, Scandinavian, Russian, Hungarian and other pourquoi tales mingle fleetingly on the pages of the book. Several concluding pages expand on the legends mentioned in the poetic text, describe the various forms of the aurora, and give some scientific information about the phenomena and its southern twin, the aurora australis. Davie's double-page spreads in pastel and gouache are notable for presenting varied displays in addition to the familiar curtain-form depictions. The book does have a few shortcomings. The afterword is a bit sketchy in describing the various cultural interpretations of the aurora. Also, although the illustrations are attractive, they depict literally the legends in question so the geese, horses, human figures, a throne, and other objects are painted into the auroral displays. However, since few of the potential readers will view an actual aurora, the idea that might likely result, that auroras are some kind of movie in the sky, is unfortunate. The amazing variety and rapid movement of an aurora is virtually impossible to depict on paper. Esbensen and Davie have made a valiant, but not totally satisfying, effort to create an appreciation for the aurora's mystery. A good choice for communities in which brief cultural information about the aurora is needed for students who are already familiar with the real thing.
Sue Sherif, Fairbanks North Star Borough Public Library, AK
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
"A Night Rainbow" is our own piece of the northern lights. Like a firely in a bottle, Barbara Juster Esbensen is able to capture in words the grandeur and mystery of this most magical phenomenon. With unparalleled mastery, the author seamlessly weaves science, legend and poetry into a rich landscape of words. In this book which will be enjoyed as much by adults as children, Barbara's reverence for native folklore and her enthusiasm for the natural world are keenly evident. Helen Davie's lovely pastel illustrations effectively convey both the majesty and flowing, ephemeral qualities of the aurora borealis. Together, words and pictures embrace the reader with open arms on all levels of being - physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual.
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