HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: All Things Bright and Beautiful
Author: Cecil Frances Alexander
Illustrator: Bruce Whatley
Publisher: HarperCollins, 2001
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 4 – 8
Rating: ***** 5 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Alexander, Cecil Frances. All Things Bright and Beautiful (published in 2001 by HarperCollins). Cecil Frances Humphreys Alexander (1818-1895) was born in Ireland. She began writing poetry as a child and wrote nearly 400 hymns. Many of her hymns were produced to explain theological beliefs to youngsters. Already a well-known hymn writer before her marriage to an Anglican minister in 1850, she wrote “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” one of her most beloved and popular, to help explain to children the statement “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth,” which is the opening words of the so-called “Apostles’ Creed.” It is said to have been written at Marktree Castle, near Sligo in Ireland and was first published in her 1848 Hymns for Little Children. Two of her other well known hymns are “There Is A Green Hill Far Away” and “Jesus Calls Us O’er the Tumult.” Albert Edward Bailey wrote, “For once Mrs. Alexander has forgotten her theology and lost herself in the beauty of nature. She has created a charming hymn for children; the aspects of nature she conjures up are all within the experience of the little people of the Emerald Isle — or anywhere.” Mrs. Alexander was known to be a generous woman who cared for the poor and opened a school for the deaf with her sister.
Cecil Frances Alexander’s timeless ode to nature calls everyone to celebrate the wonders of life, great and small, seen and unseen. Now illustrator Bruce Whatley offers a fresh interpretation of the lyrics of this classic 19th-century hymn, which celebrates both nature and the omnipotence of the Creator, in beautiful, panoramic watercolor paintings, for the whole family to enjoy. They feature a girl dressed in dungaree overalls, a straw hat, and boots walking on a farm with her dog. Through his lush pictures in their wonderful, soft colors, the reader joins the little girl’s country ramble and shares her appreciation of the beauty around her. A flower, the wind, a mountain view, all give her reasons to pause and praise, and inspire us to do the same. School Library Journal noted that “there are other lovely illustrated versions of this 19th-century song.” One of the more recent ones was publisher by North-South in 2004, and illustrated by Anna Vojtech who was born in Prague, in what is now the Czech Republic.