Northern Woodlands / Spring 2017 77
water lilies in the brilliant blue pond.
Geese make the pond a fall rest stop, and
Matt wants to feed the birds. But naturalist Katie
cautions them against feeding the geese: “My
book says they should only eat the food they find
in the wild.” When temperatures drop, the pond
becomes a skating rink for neighborhood children
while deer watch from the edge of the woods.
Warmer weather brings more wildlife to the pond
as the friends plan how they’ll further enjoy their
Children as young as four will enjoy LaMarche’s
gentle story and realistic animal illustrations
while older readers will appreciate the children’s
resourcefulness as they work to restore and then
enjoy the pond.
vaguely remembered woodland ways and wished
they had them back. Even after assimilation, as
the percentage of Mi’kmaq DNA in their genomes
declined, they sensed something was missing.
Proulx is not on the side of the newcomers, who
saw trees as money, rather than as sources of life
almost as important as air and water.
The importance of this novel is in the story of
tree-cutting on a massive scale, a story that’s
rarely told and studied by few. Proulx tells of the
times of her own French and English ancestors,
going back to 1650, in a dramatic way. The newcomers were tough in different ways: in business
boardrooms, in filthy logging camps, in their
carelessness. Whether French, Indian, or English,
they became American capitalists and exploited
workers with a vengeance.
Barkskins is a monumental attempt at telling a
shady part of American history. As literature, it may
fail, which – as a fan of Proulx – I find hard to say.
But take your time; wade on through Barkskins;
endure the hardships and losses hardly hinted at
in our schools. You are in for a re-education. Take
some of her wild tales with a grain of salt, at the
same time recognizing that the author, in using
them, gets close to the truth when describing
ambitious men here and abroad who took over
with the blessings of absent kings and succeeded
while most of their workers simply died and were
forgotten. Nothing new in that, but Proulx’s book
reminds us, once again, that we might do better.
Water is Water
Miranda Paul / Illustrated by Jason Chin
Roaring Brook Press, 2015
With catchy rhymes and colorful artwork, author
Miranda Paul skillfully weaves the seasonal play
of children with water to introduce the water cycle.
Water is Water, an award-winning nonfiction picture book, begins on a summer day as two young
children kneel at a pond’s edge, peering intently
at the turtle they are about to capture. (Not to
worry – the turtle is gently released back into the
pond at the end of the day.) Later, as they play at
home, water “whirls” and “swirls” as steam rising
above cups of cocoa and then becomes “a dragon
in a wagon” in late-afternoon clouds.
The artistic talents of Vermont illustrator Jason
Chin are vividly displayed in his renderings of
children at play. His fall pictures are particularly
eye-catching: children stand in a two-page swirl
of red leaves while waiting for the school bus,
barely visible through the fog. At this point, fog is
described as nothing more than clouds that form
low. Rain falls, and children gleefully “slosh in
galoshes” as they run through puddles.
Winter arrives, and Chin shows the exuber-
ance of children as they enjoy water as a winter
snowfall and skate on the pond, now a frozen, icy
playground. Spring warmth brings mud for the
children to “Creep. Seep. Squish in your boots.” In
late summer the children once again gather at the
pond, now drinking freshly pressed apple cider.
In the final pages, Paul defines words like liq-
uid, evaporation, condensation, and precipitation
as she explains the transformation of water in the
water cycle. Children will be intrigued to learn that
they are about 65 percent water, an apple is 84
percent water, and a turtle is 70 percent water.
The rhyming text and lively illustrations will
delight book lovers as young as four, while older
children will also appreciate Paul’s clear introduc-
tion to the water cycle.
Simon & Schuster, 2016
Adventure begins with Matt’s late-spring visit to
“the Pit,” a vacant lot at the edge of his neighborhood. Matt notices something he’s never seen
before: water is bubbling up from the ground in
the midst of old tires and rusted tin cans. When
he looks carefully at the Pit, Matt realizes it is a
shallow depression that was once a small pond.
He now has a mission. He asks his sister Katie
and friend Pablo to help revive the long gone
pond. Debris from the Pit is cleared away, and the
children rebuild a small dam with rocks and logs
gathered from the surrounding woods.
LaMarche’s charming Pond illustrations are vital
to the telling of this story, as pages are filled with
subtle yet beautiful seasonal color changes and
the occasional view of the city skyline. As the pond
slowly fills, Katie uses her guidebooks to identify the insects and birds that appear at this new
habitat. An old wooden boat seen lying nearby is
repaired, and the children celebrate by giving each
other rides as they pull the boat across the shallow
pond, amidst the arrival of even more insects and
birds. The success story of the reclaimed pond is
fully realized with LaMarche’s two-page illustration of the children floating and playing among
My heart’s a saggy split-rail fence,
happy and propped, but still a fence.
You with your laugh somehow
make latch, make creaky
gate of me, but still a gate.
Thirty robins wheel, a whoosh,
from black-branched crab and March’s
mad berries, iced, unfallen berries.
From Straddle, Salmon Poetry