Russell Hoban's work is so eclectic, that it's often hard to know what to expect when you open one of his books. Here, we have a dark fable for children, which I really think most children, certainly of my acquaintance, will totally fail to appreciate. It is a slender story that tells the tale of a failing Shaman, John and his quest to find the songs of the world to tempt his daughter 'Soon Child' to be born. The illustrations by Alexis Deacon are perfectly chosen and resonate beautifully with the dark, sadness of the story. This is an accomplished, sophisticated piece of story telling in the folk tradition that will speak volumes to you if you are a fan of folk tales or the stories of ancient cultures and belief systems. It is subtle and complex and needs at least a couple of readings to really start to appreciate the stark beauty of the prose. I loved it. Sadly, I don't know many children who will. I wish I did.