Tony by Ed Galing, illustrated by Erin E. Stead (9781626723085)
Tony was a big white horse who pulled the milk wagon for Tom every morning. Tony pulled the wagon full of eggs, butter and milk. When Tom stopped to make a delivery, Tony would wait patiently. One child, the narrator, would go outside and greet Tony every morning when they pulled up, giving Tony a hug and a pat. Tom greeted the child too, saying that Tony looked forward every morning to the greeting. Then they went on with their route, and Tony had a little dance in his step in farewell.
This poem by the late Galing makes a wonderful picture book filled with spare language and power. The book walks forward with the solidity of a large horse, the delicacy of breakable eggs, and the spirit of dancing footsteps. It is entirely lovely, creating a sliver of time where horses were used for deliveries and children could greet them eagerly if they were willing to wake early enough.
Stead’s illustrations are exceptionally lovely. Her fine lines bring memories to life. The dreamy nature of the illustrations help us look back in time. She floods some pages with a bright yellow light, welcoming and warm. Others echo the mist of early morning and the quietness.
A lovely poetic picture book that slows you down to another time and place. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.
Creekfinding: A True Story by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Claudia McGehee (9780816698028)
This picture book tells the true story of a lost creek that used to cross a prairie meadow. Then a farmer bulldozed dirt into the creek to create more farm land. Years later, another man purchased the field and heard from a neighbor about the creek that used to be there. He decided to try to find that creek. So he dug a creek bottom after consulting historic photographs of the land. He hoped that the water would return and it did. But a creek is more than running water and now it was up to him to bring more rocks, more plants and eventually trout in his newly rediscovered creek.
This book focuses on a compelling topic. That the land we live and farm on once used to be very different from the way it is now and that we can work to return it to its more natural state. The picture book has wonder at its center, the amazing notion that water once buried will return to a dry creek bed. It also focuses on the hard work that it took and the incredible problem solving that went into rebuilding the creek from literally the bottom up. Slowly it become reality with lots of work and patience.
The illustrations by McGehee are based directly on her visit to the land the book is about. Done on scratchboard, the illustrations have a wonderful weight to them, capturing the deep greens of the prairie, the richness of the biodiversity, and the transformation of the land.
A fascinating topic that is just right for environmental units or Earth Day, this picture book is a celebration of nature and man working together. Appropriate for ages 5-8.
Reviewed from library copy.