Casanova turns in something different with this lyrical look at an island’s start to a brand new day.
There is no plot, just a series of island vignettes that are sometimes beautiful in their simplicity, the typesetting of the words on the pages at times echoing their meanings: “Pine trees s t r e t c h / their limbs and branches.” Precise words introduce nature vocabulary to little listeners—dangle, plunge, gargle, shimmy—and paint word pictures: “Heron swoops, / a two-stilt statue.” And the island is filled with the flora and fauna of the north woods: deer, moose, spider, loon, mallards, bees. Greens, blues, and browns dominate Wroblewski’s woodcuts. The ravens and chickadees are so close to realistic they might fly away, the heron’s feathers are gorgeously detailed, and the bear and red squirrel scenes might be artwork on a wall. Other times, though, the illustrations are a miss—the opening spread of water and sky is unrealistic to the point of being abstract, and the closing picture uses the same sky. The addition of “you,” a blond, white child who wakes up, eats breakfast, and rushes out to explore the world, can be seen as intruding on the natural scene, and Wroblewski’s close-up of this child is wooden and almost ugly.
A mixed bag, to be sure, but for those children living near these island oases, there is much that will seem familiar. (Picture book. 4-7)