LETTER TO THE LAKE

From the team behind Getting Used to the Dark (1997), a picture book that contrasts the drudgery of a wintry here and now with sparkling, ever-green scenes of summer at the lake. It is early in the morning, dark and bitterly cold; Rosie's mom is distracted, the car won't start, and Rosie would rather be somewhere else—namely, the lake where she spends her summer days. As she gets up, helps jump-start the car, and motors off in the cruel crystal light of a sub-zero dawn, Rosie writes a letter in her mind to the lake. ``I keep thinking about you, Lake . . . Remember me? Remember me floating in a silver boat . . . I want to row all the way to summer, where you float the water lilies, and the loons, and the whole bright sky.'' A pall hangs over the book—a disproportionate sense of sobriety: a weariness in Rosie's mother's eyes, resolute cheer from the neighbor who helps start the car, and a feeling everywhere that this is not the happiest of moments in their lives. It remains untapped, for Swanson only hints that something deeper is going on. The artwork is lovely, and not quite absolute: Winter is dour and dark, but its shadows and reflections are tinged with joyous summer images. If all love letters are made poignant by the sorrows of separation, this one rings true; the picture-book set, however, may find it too unsettling to appreciate. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-7894-2483-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1998

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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HELLO, HARVEST MOON

As atmospheric as its companion, Twilight Comes Twice, this tone poem pairs poetically intense writing with luminescent oils featuring widely spaced houses, open lawns, and clumps of autumnal trees, all lit by a huge full moon. Fletcher tracks that moon’s nocturnal path in language rich in metaphor: “With silent slippers / it climbs the night stairs,” “staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow,” lighting up a child’s bedroom, the wings of a small plane, moonflowers, and, ranging further afield, harbor waves and the shells of turtle hatchlings on a beach. Using creamy brushwork and subtly muted colors, Kiesler depicts each landscape, each night creature from Luna moths to a sleepless child and her cat, as well as the great moon sweeping across star-flecked skies, from varied but never vertiginous angles. Closing with moonset, as dawn illuminates the world with a different kind of light, this makes peaceful reading either in season, or on any moonlit night. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-16451-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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