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OLD HOME DAY by Donald Hall

OLD HOME DAY

By Donald Hall (Author) , Emily Arnold McCully (Illustrator)

Age Range: 9 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-15-276896-3
Publisher: Harcourt

 Hall (When Willard Met Babe Ruth, p. 374, etc.) traces the history of Blackwater Pond, a small New England settlement, from its geological formation to a vision of its bicentennial celebration in August 1999. The town swells with farmers in the 18th and 19th centuries; by the beginning of the 20th century, people are moving out. In 1899, New Hampshire's governor creates Old Home Day (or Old Home Week, as explained in the afterword), a holiday meant to bring people back for a visit. Hall's lyrical book is a thorough history of the waxing, waning, and potential rebirth of America's small towns, and while adults may treasure it for nostalgic reasons, children may find it slow and, in some places, confusing. Family names are mentioned without enough details to make the lineages stick; what should be poetry reads more like genealogical records. Some events need factual moorings, e.g., the Civil War is never named, only referred to poetically: ``When Johnny Reb fired on Fort Sumter . . . '' is a clue not all readers will grasp. The ten thousand years between the ``first people'' and trappers sending pelts to London and Paris are simply noted as ``later.'' McCully's watercolors make time's passing more tangible. In the end, however, this book and all its many charms are better suited to older readers. (Picture book. 9+)