At Break of Day

At Break of DayHow do you retell a sto­ry that’s been told a thou­sand times? How do you make it new, and fresh? Those were the ques­tions I asked myself when I got the idea to write a cre­ation sto­ry. But I did­n’t get to that point on my own.

I had­n’t been sit­ting around think­ing about writ­ing any kind of cre­ation sto­ry. It was nowhere in my file fold­er of ideas. But one of my pub­lish­ers asked if I could apply myself to the retelling of a sto­ry from the Old Tes­ta­ment. They were think­ing more like David and Goliath, or Noah and the Ark, but no bells went off in my head at the thought of those well-told tales. The cre­ation sto­ry, though, was some­thing I believed I could sink my teeth into. In oth­er words, it was the greater chal­lenge, and, as I’ve said else­where, I love a good challenge!

I opened the Bible and reread the cre­ation sto­ry in Gen­e­sis, mak­ing notes as I went along. Apart from Gen­e­sis, I remem­bered sev­er­al ref­er­ences to the cre­ation sto­ry through­out the New Tes­ta­ment, as well, most espe­cial­ly in Hebrews. There it says “God…in these last days has spo­ken to us in His Son, whom he appoint­ed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.” In oth­er words, the Son, Jesus, was involved in the cre­ation. This idea is reit­er­at­ed in oth­er books of the Bible, as well.

The key, then, to telling this old sto­ry in a new way, was per­spec­tive. I decid­ed to write this sto­ry from the points-of-view of both Father and Son.

At Break of Day
A detail from one of Paul Mor­in’s mixed-media paint­ings in At Break of Day.

My orig­i­nal text was more than matched by the tex­tu­al, mixed-media illus­tra­tions of Paul Morin. He spoke life into each scene by cre­at­ing mass, and depth. In one paint­ing, for exam­ple, he imbed­ded lace in the shapes of flow­ers and but­ter­flies, which he then paint­ed over in bril­liant col­ors. He laid pieces over a tree, as well, and used lace in the leaves to remark­able effect. This kind of tex­ture lent great weight to the story.

At Break of Day made the CCBC Choic­es list, as well as the CBC Not Just for Chil­dren Any­more list. Review­ers said of the final prod­uct, “A love­ly and poet­ic recast­ing of the Bib­li­cal cre­ation sto­ry in a mod­ern spir­it…” (Kirkus) “Over­all, a vig­or­ous addi­tion to the Cre­ation canon.” (Book­list) “…I find myself once again prowl­ing the chil­dren’s sec­tion, look­ing for mag­ic, for light­en­ing in a bot­tle. I may have found it in At Break of Day.” (Book­page)

This title remains, to this day, one of my favorite pic­ture books. It’s hard to choose a pas­sage to share with you, but this one is spe­cial to me. Have you read this book already? If not, enjoy!

At Break of Day

The son could hard­ly wait for the fifth day to begin. At
dawn, he head­ed for the seashore. Then, while his father
watched, the son filled the seas with sharks and seals, starfish
and stingrays, whales and wal­rus­es, and short-finned and
long-finned crea­tures that glid­ed through the clear water

The father nod­ded his approval. Then the son whispered,
and the word he whis­pered became a feath­er, and the
feath­er trav­eled on the warm wind of his breath.

In an instant, the whir of wings beat­ing the air echoed
through field and for­est, and scores of birds soared and
skimmed and swooped across the sky. The birds looked
left and right but could not find the place where the wind

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