Chall employs alliteration and rhyme to lyrically portray a young boy’s quiet adventure on his grandparents’ farm.
After a car trip that lasts “two sleeps,” the boy is eager to find the secret his Grampa has promised in this bucolic landscape. He questions his grandparents and the animals during a campfire, a henhouse visit and a cornfield trek. At bedtime the moon inspires him to slip outside. Under the moonlight he fancies himself a pirate going aboard a galleon. “Where is the secret treasure?” “I find the ladder, / take a breath, / then climb up to the loft. / Shhhh, the pirate hushes. / Then something brushes, / something soft.” Astute readers will already know the answer from a foreshadowed “mew.” It is the interplay between the author’s poetic language and the lush illustrations Solomon provides that elevates the story from the usual new-pet fare. A mix of various paints and collage creates dreamy settings rooted with sharp details. On a pivotal spread, watery deep-blue barn planks bleed together while the finely detailed straw focuses readers’ attention (and the boy’s) to the destination of his surprise. “Finders, keepers” does apply.
This sophisticated farmyard tale is sprinkled with gentle plays on words and is sure to spark discussion about secrets of all kinds—those to keep, discover and share. (Picture book. 4-7)