Name of Book: At Break of Day
Author: Nikki Grimes
Illustrator: Paul Morin
Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
Audience: Ages 4 – 8. This book, while categorized as a children’s picture book, is not at all juvenile in its language or illustrations. It would thus make an excellent addition to any youth or adult study of the creation story.
Summary: At Break of Day is a beautiful retelling of Genesis 1-2. From the very beginning, father and son delight in the creation of the earth and all that is upon it. From the chaos of the darkness, to the gentle beauty of human love, father and son create a world that is both mysterious and sacred.
Literary elements at work in the story: This picture book’s strength is derived from the artful combination of gentle, lilting prose and the beautifully textured and rich illustrations. Rather than relying on simple rhymes in this children’s book, Grimes makes great use of alliteration and gently rhythmic language. The result is a text that is both graceful and, at times, percussive. Additionally, Grimes weaves into the traditional creation story a playful and loving relationship between father and son, thus combining the imagery of Genesis 1 and John 1. Finally, the illustrations work beautifully with the text to conjure complex and earthy pictures of the creation; nearly all of the pictures are deeply textured and beg to be touched. The exception to this is the illustration of Adam and Eve, which mixes shadow and light and points to the spiritual nature of humanity.
Perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability: This picture book uses traditional language for the father-son relationship within the trinity. This relationship is depicted as loving, playful, and creative. When Adam and Eve are created, they are created together and for one another, in an artful blend of both Genesis accounts.
Theological Conversation Partners:Genesis 1-2; Proverbs 8:22-31; John 1:1-4
Faith Talk Questions:
- Ask the students to consider some of the varied feelings they experience when they create something.
- When we create, we often want to share. Whether we bring a painting home to be hung on the refrigerator, or we are asked to display a sculpture in the fanciest museum, we delight in sharing our creative efforts with others. How do the father and son share in the creative process of making light, sky, earth, and growing things? How do the father and son share their creation even further?
- Compare this picture book with the Genesis 1 and 2 accounts of creation. What are the similarities? What are the differences? Do you think these similarities or differences are important?
- The illustrator creates pictures for this book that are very colorful and full of texture. For Adam and Eve, however, the pictures are different. Why do you think Adam and Eve are different from the other parts of creation?
This review was prepared by Union Presbyterian Seminary student Catherine Lovejoy.