At Grandpa's Sugar Bush
Reviewed: September 17, 2004
By: Margaret Carney / art by Janet Wilson
Publisher: Kids Can Press
32 pages, $6.95
This picture book was inspired by the author's own experiences with sugar maples, first as a child, watching other families tapping their trees, and then as an adult, in the sugar bush she and her husband own.
I learned in the silence of the sugar bush to watch and listen for the first signs of spring, Carney says in the notes that came with the book. It's a magical moment when the bush begins to thaw. The animals come out of hiding, the sap starts to run and everything seems to slowly start to awaken.
All of these things come to life in this story of a child and his or her grandpa going out to tap the trees and prepare the syrup. The publisher's sheet says the narrator is a boy, but looking at Janet Wilson's paintings this nameless elementary school age child could just as easily be a short haired girl.
This is a story which shows a lot about how to do something, but is not at all boring because the character telling the story is so involved in what is happening. In addition, a story like this one provides the writer with lots of opportunities to talk about nature and signs of the season, while the artist has the chance to paint some lovely forest scenery at various times of the day and night.
Besides that, it's nice to read a story where the younger and older generation get together enjoy each others company. Many youngsters in our country will never have just this kind of experience and it's good for them to know that it can happen.
The rustic setting makes this a timeless sort of tale that should still be relevant years from now.