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ANGELS WATCHING OVER ME

Written by Julia Durango Illustrated by Elisa Kleven 
Simon and Schuster, 2007

 

What better way to reassure a young child than with the words of a soft, soothing spiritual exuberantly expanded by author Julia Durango and intricately illuminated by award-winning artist Elisa Kleven.

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News and reviews:

“An African-American spiritual provides the inspiration for this exuberant lyrical lullaby... Glorious illustrations rendered in watercolor, ink, collage and colored pencil reveal nature holistically embracing the boy while a multicultural heavenly host of whimsical winged babies, boys, girls, birds, elephants, lions, cats, dogs and donkeys encircle and protect. Aerial views of the earth globally teeming with life and surrounded by blissful bands of cavorting angels provide cosmic comfort. Utterly angelic.”

 -- Kirkus Reviews

 

“This is simply a glorious book. Basing her text on a familiar African-American spiritual, Durango adds her own verses to the refrain: “All night, all day, angels watching over me.” Kleven interprets these words by depicting joyous celestial beings of every description (a lion, an elephant, boys and girls of different cultures, small animals, birds), all circling together holding hands against a bright blue sky and looking down at the colorful world. The narrative and artwork burst with life, color, and happiness, as a young boy greets a new day (“Day begins, dawn breaks anew./Sun wakes up, I wake up too”) and spends it outdoors enjoying nature with the creatures of the Earth, while occasionally floating into the sky to soar with the angels for the song’s refrain. In the evening (“Grass says rest, I curl up snug./Dusk surrounds me like a hug”), one of his new friends gently carries him home to sleep. The breathtaking folk-style illustrations are fashioned with watercolor, ink, colored pencil, and collage. Text and pictures radiate a sense of peace, security, and oneness with all living things. The words “my Lord” have been omitted from the refrain, and there are no references to specific religious beliefs, making the book a beautiful nondenominational paean to creation and the Earth’s many blessings.”

-- School Library Journal