WHAT YOU KNOW FIRST by Patricia MacLachlan

WHAT YOU KNOW FIRST

by , illustrated by
Age Range: 7 & up

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A superb writer presents the themes of leave-taking and memory that recur frequently in her novels, beautifully distilled into a picture book. From Skylark (1994), MacLachlan expands one phrase (``. . .she can't help remembering what she knew first'') into a story about a family's wrenching departure from their prairie farm and a young girl's determination to remember every detail. The spare text and Moser's haunting engravings are poignantly nostalgic; adults reading this out loud will find the combination affecting, but it may be less meaningful to children, with their limited experience of change and more concrete ways of thinking. The circumstances compelling the family's move are never explained; drought isn't the reason, and the narrator's question, ``Why are we leaving if everyone's so sad?'' is likely to echo readers' thoughts. Black- and-white with the barest hint of tint and as still and posed as old photographs, the atmospheric illustrations may puzzle the young: A man is disappearing from the frame in the frontispiece; the heads of the adults are cut off by the cropping of a family grouping. With very little book-talking, younger readers will take away from this as much as older ones; no one will fail to appreciate the gentle flow of words and understated sentiments. (Picture book. 7+)

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1995
ISBN: 0-06-024413-5
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1995




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