one frozen lake

One Frozen Lake by Deborah Jo Larson, illustrated by Steven Johnson and Lou Fancher

A boy and his grandfather head out on the frozen lake to go fishing.  They drill through four inches of ice and set up their canvas ice shack.  Inside they open their tackle box and have four watery holes to fish through.  Other join them out on the ice and cocoa is shared, but after seven hours they haven’t seen a single fish.  They play cards together and wait until night falls then, a fish!  A ten incher and a keeper!  But the boy has different ideas than a fish dinner.  This picture book captures the quiet times spent fishing out on the ice with a loved one.  It’s sure to appeal to children who have headed out themselves and waiting those long hours for just one bite.

Larson nicely weaves numbers and counting into her words in this book.  One frozen lake, two friends, three bundles of gear, four inches of ice, five hours to wait.  Then she starts again from one, building her poetic story upon the foundation of counting.  But this is not a counting book, instead it is a celebration of Minnesota winters and family.

The art here is exceptional.  The story above the ice is shown in realistic paintings that show with accuracy the relationship between grandfather and grandson.  The tones are bright, sun-filled but also cold as a northern winter should be.  Below the ice is a completely different world.  There the images are done as collages with whimsical old-fashioned touches taken from signs and flyers.  The result is a pairing that shows the stark difference between surface and depths.

Growing up on a Wisconsin lake, this picture book brought back many memories of walking the frozen lake and seeing the shanties.  It’s sure to do the same for many grandparents and grandchildren.  This is definitely a keeper!  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.