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The Huron Carol    by Father Jean de Brébeuf & Frances Tyrrell order for
Huron Carol
by Jean de Brébeuf
Order:  USA  Can
Key Porter, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Jesuit missionary Father Jean de Brébeuf (1593-1649), patron saint of Canada, wrote The Huron Carol, a North American version of the Christmas nativity story. Frances Tyrrell's elegant and entrancing art takes us back in time and into the lives of Native Americans.

I love the picture surrounding the black and white title page inside the book - the title is enclosed in a shape reminiscent of a plain church window in the middle of a forest. Subsequent pages continue the theme with an event in the window, surrounded by repeated black and white images of nature - fragments of bark, birds, snowflakes, etc.. It begins, ''Twas in the moon of wintertime / when all the birds had fled, / That mighty Gitchi Manitou / sent angel choirs instead'. The wintry wilderness all around, the babe is born inside 'a lodge of broken bark' enclosed in a 'ragged robe of rabbit skin' as warriors dance, and chiefs bring 'gifts of fox and beaver pelt' from afar, and children gather around in wonder.

At the back of this inspiring picture book are the words (in old Huron, 18th century French, and English) and music for the carol, as well as a brief history, which reminds us that 'the Huron carol deserves to be remembered and enjoyed because it touches something in all of us: its message - that even in the darkest winter there is the promise of light and new birth - is one of hope which we all can share.'

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