THE GREAT SHAKING by Jo Carson

THE GREAT SHAKING

by & illustrated by
Age Range: 5 & up
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Subtitling her re-creation ``An Account of the Earthquakes of 1811 and 1812 by a Bear Who Was a Witness,'' the Tennessee poet (Stories I Ain't Told Nobody Yet, 1989) and picture book author (You Hold Me and I'll Hold You, 1992) evokes the three massive quakes as experienced by a bear at their epicenter in New Madrid, Missouri. Her narrator behaves like a bear and refers matter-of-factly to the earth as ``Mother,'' yet is an intelligent observer and has a poet's sensitivity to language- -and, withall, his voice is so consistently imagined and so richly entertaining that the reader gladly accepts it. ``The shakings began as if Mother was rising from her sleep. She sleeps in the winter like I do. Something itched her. I was pushed from my fold in her skin.'' Later, ``Horses, cows, and other fools who want leading froze in their tracks and drowned. I swam.'' Gleaning curious facts (e.g., ``a stag whose antlers were filled with crows'') from her research, Carson sets them among more serious observations (what people of different races imagined God meant by the quakes) and the bear's sensations, which not only offer vivid close-ups of the historical cataclysm but have a pungently idiosyncratic humor. Parker's hand-colored aquatints are a splendid complement, subtly recalling old prints while conveying the earth's awesome power and the animals' unquestioning fortitude in dark, misty tones and compositions of singular beauty. A unique and extraordinary accomplishment by all concerned. Note about earthquakes. (Picture book. 5+)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-531-06809-9
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Orchard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1994




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