Two brothers experience the power of nature and family in this stirring tale.
While the story of two young brothers playing in a swimming hole seems simple, much of its depth lies in what is shown rather than said. In choosing to make the protagonists black while never explicitly referring to their race, the author and illustrator enable all young readers to understand and experience the transformative power of nature without resorting to preaching. Of equal benefit to readers is the depiction of successful black families as normal rather than exceptional and the child protagonists as ordinary people who love nature. The book’s social aim is laudable and understated, but the narrative’s heartfelt message of fraternal love combined with gorgeous illustrations make this exceptional. Claverie’s use of lush green pastels evokes nature at the height of summer, and the muted brown of the rocks highlights the warm, darker-brown skin of the brothers as they climb a high promontory to leap into the lake below. Nadon’s text works seamlessly with the illustrations to capture the lithe gawkiness of the protagonists’ preteen bodies and the younger brother’s childlike sense of fantasy as he imagines himself as a cat, a bird, and a fish to gain the courage to conquer his fear and jump in.
A must-have for libraries and households. (Picture book. 4-7)