Introductory scenes present a young pink-skinned girl with a brown pageboy struggling to fall asleep as she tracks the sights and sounds of the ice storm at her window.
A loud crack sends daughter and mother running outside to discover that a beloved branch has splintered off from their tree; she mourns: “It was my castle, my spy base, my ship….” The viewpoint of this endearing child with cropped bangs and expressive body language is effectively reinforced through frequent use of a worm’s-eye perspective and first-person narration. Messier’s descriptions enrich the strong plot. When the protagonist first gazes upon the neighborhood, she imagines it has been “wrapped in a heavy blanket of diamonds.” Unlike her parent, who dismisses the branch’s value, an understanding neighbor sees that it is “full of potential”: “worth keeping.” Mr. Frank allows her to imagine a solution and then helps her realize it. Pratt’s skilled brushwork, which ranges from heavy, black outlines to undefined, hazy views, creates a multitude of effects. The silvery lavender/blue frost of winter contrasts with the warm reds of Frank’s flannel shirt and workshop. Seasons change as they create plans, saw, sand, and varnish. It is a green world that hosts the transformed wood, still capable of supporting a child’s fantasy in its new life as a swing.
Brimming with personality and passion, this protagonist is a joy to know. (Picture book. 4-7)