A group of family and friends performs the chores in the sugar bush that lead to fresh maple syrup.
It’s not just collecting sap and boiling it: bottles must be sterilized, wood gathered and stacked, the sugar content of the boiling syrup monitored, and the finished syrup filtered and bottled. As young Kelsey follows her father around the wood, it’s clear this isn’t her first exposure to this northeastern spring ritual, though this is belied by didactic and expository dialogue, as when Daddy explains how the trees have stored sugar over the winter. Kelsey’s chores are kid-appropriate: hammering spiles, hanging buckets, stacking and carrying wood, and curiously peeking and asking about the syrup’s readiness as it boils. The boiling goes on all night and into the next morning, when the family enjoys a maple syrup–centered breakfast while waiting for the sap buckets to fill again. Mitter’s illustrations play up the camaraderie of working together. Skin tones range from Kelsey’s own white skin to light and dark browns in this multiracial gathering. While the tractor and single storage tank indicate that this is not a large-scale operation, the evaporator and dedicated sugar shack mean this isn’t just a hobby, either. The final page includes more facts about maple syrup.
Readers with maples get ready: kids are sure to want to try their hands at boiling their own syrup. (Picture book. 3-9)