In this picture book based on a true story, a father and daughter pay homage to the valley that will be flooded when a dam under construction is completed.
Early one morning, Kathryn, a young girl, is woken by her father and told, “Bring your fiddle.” They are visiting the valley that will soon be flooded when the Kielder Dam in Northumberland, England, is finished. In each empty house in the abandoned valley, Kathryn plays her fiddle while her father sings, as they remember and commemorate the music and the life that the houses have held. Author Almond’s narrative is quietly spare as it both reinforces and references illustrator Pinfold’s detailed, majestic illustrations—reminiscent of Andrew Wyeth’s work in both palette and grace. When the narrative says, “This was covered over. / This was drowned,” the small spot illustrations opposite, in a somber palette, create a sense of time, movement, and loss. And when, with the flick of the phrase, “The lake is beautiful” concludes the sequence, the narrative and illustrative tones change. Now the page turn reveals a majestic wordless double-page spread of the created lake, painted in soft blues and greens, and ensuing illustrations show people boating, swimming, and playing on the lakeshore.
With its every detail—its masterful illustrations, its landscape format, and the elegant text that offers readers a way to see the promise of new life from what has been destroyed—this book triumphs. (Picture book. 4-10)