AT THE POND by Geraldo Valério
Kirkus Star


by ; illustrated by
Age Range: 3 - 7
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This wordless narrative examines the assumptions humans make regarding their relationship to animals.

The story opens in a forest clearing: A dog is tied to a pole next to the only house there. It’s a gray world except for the yellow chain and collar. As the white owner and dog walk toward the pond, blue streaks bleed onto their heads and the treetops. A bevy of swans floats peacefully on the water, and one nuzzles the child’s hand. Child and dog climb aboard, delighting in the friendly animals that emerge along with a range of spring colors and flowers on the banks. Removing the collar, the protagonist releases the pet to play—then places the restrictive object around the swan’s neck. Immediately the color drains from the spread. In addition to skillfully advancing meaning and plot via his palette, Valério effectively employs the gutter to signal division and reunion. Simply drawn but expressive faces convey apology and forgiveness across the gulf as the chain is abandoned. Viewers will have much to ponder about the tension between love and control or freedom and belonging as lifeless, tangled trees contrast with sun-drenched, impressionistic compositions rendered in visible strokes of graphite and colored pencils, paint, and markers.

A provocative drama inviting readers to question their own behaviors toward all of the creatures in their orbits. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 3rd, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-77306-232-7
Page count: 48pp
Publisher: Groundwood
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2019


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