Raffi's Surprise

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Julia Hubery, ill. Mei Matsuoka
Simon and Schuster
Sep 2006
Pastoral pleasures, long swishy grass, the sparkling stream and rustling, rippling trees are associated by Raffi racoon with his home. Out of all of these, his most treasured, and best loved surrounding is Old Father oak who emblemises the love and attachment Raffi feels for his homeland. It is amongst Old Father Oak�s branches that Raffi has learnt to climb and it is in the shade of his leaves that Raffi plays.

On the first day of Autumn Raffi awakes early to play but is distressed to see no leaves, only an ethereal, silver mist. On closer inspection he finds the leaves are still there, a single gold one drops and twirls away into the midst of the mists. Raffi chases this believing it to be a gift from Old Father Oak, but more and more begin to fall, causing Raffi concerns as to Old Father Oak�s well-being. Is he cold, or is he crying?

Raffi�s mother explains the leaves falling signals that Autumn has arrived and that winter will soon be coming. The holistic nature of the seasons for the animals is presented as leaves provide a blanket for sleep, nature�s bounty provides a feast to fatten ready for the winter sleep, acorns are hidden beneath the ground and Old Father Oak himself provides sanctuary from the snows and chills of winter, a place where the racoons are able to sleep. The racoons awake as the first tingle of spring, with all its vivid awakenings, stings through the air.

Movement and motion is beautifully realised through Mei Matsuoka�s distinctive, vivid illustrations. Old Father Oak presents as a paternalistic protector as a provider and godhead illustrated with emphatic, far-reaching scale and scope.

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This page contains a single entry by Jacob published on November 16, 2006 8:25 PM.

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