Review: The Lights That Dance in the Night written and illustrated by Yuval Zommer

Cover image Yuval Zommer, published by OUP Books

A perfect picture book to share with young children, especially this autumn/winter when the Northern Lights have been visible to many in the north of the UK, Yuval Zommer’s latest work is an absolute essential for home and school bookshelves. He consistently produces the most amazing books which capture the awesome spectacle of nature through his distinctive artwork and careful choice of simple text.

Giving a sentient voice to the tiny specks of dust that have travelled through the stormy atmosphere to perform the awe-inspiring light display known as the Northern Lights, Yuval Zommer inspires all readers – adults and children to embrace their potential to spread joy. His wondrously rendered artwork shows the radiance, happiness and pleasure that this natural phenomenon brings to a range of creatures; making whales sing, wolves howl…and my favourite, foxes sashay! Every page sparkles with the mystery of the lights and the marvels of the natural world. The human storytelling inspired by the lights is encompassed as:

People stopped to stand and stare, to feel the magic in the air.

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I think that his description of the Northern Lights as “a miracle of winter” can be applied to this book as well as to the festive season and this will be high on my gift-giving list to young relatives this winter and, I suspect for many years to come. An absolutely perfect picture book which I highly recommend to everyone to share with a young child.

I am most grateful to Liz Scott for organising my gift copy of The Lights That Dance in the Night from Oxford University Press in exchange for my honest opinion.

Other books from Yuval Zommer which you might want to share as Christmas gifts include A Thing Called Snow and The Tree That’s Meant to Be.

Advent Review: A Thing Called Snow written and illustrated by Yuval Zommer

Cover image by Yuval Zommer, published by OUP Children’s Books

This spellbinding book is absolutely perfect for sharing with young children at this time of year and will give hours of pleasure to both children and adults as they experience the joy of first snowfall through the characters of arctic fox and hare.

These two animals have developed a friendship since their birth in the spring and now as they face their first winter in a frozen landscape they are intrigued by the idea of snow. As they walk through their forest habitat they question the animals they meet, slowly building up a vocabulary to describe snow. Their joy when they finally experience the white, cold, fluffy, sparkly miracle absolutely leaps off the page and reflects that of all children of my acquaintance.

Yuval Zommer’s love of the natural world is present in every one of his books. In this one I love the way that the colour palette changes to reflect the atmospheric conditions, starting with warm oranges and browns which are gradually replaced by cold blues, greys and white. Children will learn so much from observing the details of the plants and animals depicted in the amazing artwork contained within this book. It again demonstrates the immense value in beautifully crafted picture books which can be read or looked at for pure pleasure and which educate by stealth.

An absolute delight, I recommend it to everyone – teachers, librarians and families.

I am most grateful to OUP Children’s Books for sending me a review copy. I have already purchased a second copy to gift to a young relative.

If you love A Thing Called Snow, then I highly recommend The Tree That’s Meant To Be by Yuval Zommer which has been published in paperback this autumn.

Review: The Tree That’s Meant to Be by Yuval Zommer

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A joyous celebration of the natural environment, told through the tale of a tree, this book is a “must” for festive reading lists! Firstly the cover simply shouts “Christmas” with its sparkling, green tree, topped with a glittering star and placed on a rich, red background. However, rather than being surrounded by a festive family, this tree is encircled by forest birds and animals, hinting at its celebration of nature.

Inside, on pages painted in the broadest range of greens, yellows and browns, and populated by sparse paragraphs of text, we learn of the tree, grown from a tiny seed, which never manages to grow tall and straight like the other forest trees. As the seasons roll around the forest suddenly turns white and humans arrive to cut down the trees. In an inversion of the classic “little fir tree” folk tale, our little tree is the one left behind in the forest, whilst all the others are cut down in their prime for a brief seasonal trip indoors.

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The following pages are suffused with the beauty of the natural world, as the wonky tree is adorned with decorations of nuts, berries, leaves and cones. It provides a focal point for the woodland creatures’ Christmas celebrations and subsequently becomes a home for birds and beasts. It is surrounded by love. The final, perfect illustration shows it providing shelter for two reading children.

My words simply cannot do justice to the magic of this book. Yuval Zommer’s finely detailed illustrations and lyrical text command hours of attention, the more closely you observe each page the more you are rewarded by the sight of delicate insects, beautifully patterned feathers and a sense of awe at the diversity of life.

As we hear the calls to protect our planet, this book provides a timely reminder of the wonder of the natural world. I hope that this picture book will be shared by adults and children, and that it will encourage the members of my generation to reflect upon the need to act to protect and nurture the glory of our planet. I am sure that The Tree That’s Meant to Be is going to be very popular at school where we are trying to be stewards of creation, and I will certainly be gifting copies to the youngest relatives this Christmas.

 

I am most grateful to OUP Children’s Publishing for sending me a review copy.