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Song of the Camels

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Gr 3 Up‘Coatsworth's sophisticated poem tells the familiar story of the three kings from the camels' point of view. Luminous oil paintings on canvas with effective uses of light build on the drama, from page to page and scene to scene, as these beasts are shown from differing dramatic perspectives. One double-page spread uses light splashes of yellow, white, green, and touches of brown to create the look and texture of sand that the animals kick up (their legs a veritable forest of blue-and-black toned muscle and bone) as they walk through the desert. On another, three proud heads stretch up into the starry night sky that is their backdrop. The panoramas of the desert capture a land of blue/gray mountains and an endless sky that carries the single bright star toward which they walk. The continuing contrast between the inky blue, star-filled sky and the blinding yellow light of the desert sand gives this book its own, unspoken, rhythm. On the final page, these recurring elements of darkness and light, blue and yellow, fade together as the camels' disappearing forms cast long shadows in the sand as Coatsworth ends her story: "Portents of glory and danger/Our dark shadows lay/At the feet of the babe in the manger/And then drifted away." A haunting and visually arresting book.

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