Water, water everywhere. We learn early on (on the copyright page) that this is an homage to Tresselt and Duvoisin’s White Snow, Bright Snow and to Zolotow and Rey’s The Park Book. The fact that most of you have heard of the first while the latter has faded into the past points out something important: that Caldecott sticker on a book matters. It matters because, well, White Snow, Bright Snow is still in print. The other book is available for $.01 online.
So, does this homage to those two books have the hope of being in print for a long long time?
I have promised myself that I will not go on and on when talking about books, so let’s see if I can keep this lean. Pencil and ink are digitally assembled and colored in this delightful story about how water is used in a large city park. It’s filled with kids and parents, caregivers and workers, dogs and nature. Water sustains, comforts, sprinkles, feeds, cleans. The people are from lots of different ethnic and religious and age groups. Everyone loves the park.
The art is highly detailed — nearly every blade of grass is shown! Muted, nearly translucent greens and blues are the order of the day with ink lines giving shape and adding detail to the images. The landscape is served well by the size of the book: it’s short and wide so that the full page spreads show off the scenes. The brownstones and storefronts act as a frame to the park. The children and their humans are round, the toddlers with healthy chubby legs and wide-set eyes, giving them an open, what-can-I-do-today look.
What caught my eye about this book? What makes it stand out?
First, it’s the arc of the visual story. Like real parks everywhere, the “regulars” come at all different times of day, often more than once. Careful readers (and who is more careful at reading the pictures than a lap listener?) will love seeing Nonny, the three-legged dog, and Mr. Fluffynut and his hands-on-hips human. They will notice that the red-shoed toddler has a red-shoed mama. When the words say, “Shawnee B. dumps pail after pail of water into the sandbox,” they will search that busy, crowded park to find Shawnee. (And so will you.)
The folks who like design will like the variety of layouts — from busy full-page bleeds to the quieter scenes with lots of white space and resting park visitors. One especially engaging page is the five o’clock scene where little circles of people slowly make their way home. (Claudia K, once again, refuses to leave!) And when the raindrops fall, every reader will identify with all those folks racing home. The final spread, all blacks and browns, with only electric lights to show the way, is a stunner, so different from all the other pages. It’s a deep breath of a page.
Oh, and for you who are keeping up with such things, the endpapers show the passage of time from morning light to almost complete darkness. That shiny paper is perfect for this art.