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Review of Water in the Park

Water in the Park: A Book About Water & the Times of the Day
by Emily Jenkins; 
illus. by Stephanie Graegin
Primary    Schwartz & Wade/Random    40 pp.
5/13    978-0-375-87002-6    $16.99
Library ed.  978-0-375-97002-3    $19.99

On a warm day, just before six a.m., a city park starts to stir: turtles laze on rocks by the pond, and dogs arrive, owners in tow, for an early-morning swim. Next, a few kids and their caretakers show up; at eight, the sprinklers are turned on, and by mid-morning the playground is mobbed. And so the day goes: small children come and go per naptime schedule, grownups take their lunch breaks on park benches, and the ice-cream truck arrives, along with another surge of delighted kids. By five o’clock, people start to trickle home. Six o’clock sees the sprinklers turned off, and by seven, the dogs have returned for an evening swim — until a much-welcomed rainstorm at eight causes the heat to break and sends everyone inside for the night. Jenkins’s introductory author’s note (on the copyright page) sets her story in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, where she was inspired, because of “many ninety-eight-degree days,” to think about the various ways the park’s water was used. It’s a very narrow jumping-off point, but one that nearly every city kid will appreciate. (The author’s note also acknowledges Jenkins’s debt of gratitude to Charlotte Zolotow and H. A. Rey’s The Park Book and Alvin Tresselt and Roger Duvoisin’s White Snow, Bright Snow.) Graegin’s pencil-and-ink-wash illustrations (digitally colored and assembled) beautifully reflect the changing light, the shifting population, and the various activities throughout the day; some of the pictures play up the quiet expanse of nature, while others are jam-packed with people enjoying the outdoors. The constant, in both text and illustrations, is water — pond, drinking, sprinkler, puddle — and a subtle message about urban community.

From the May/June 2013 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Elissa Gershowitz About Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College and a BA from Oberlin College.

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