Review of Almost Time

Almost Time
by Gary D. Schmidt and Elizabeth Stickney; illus. by G. Brian Karas
Preschool, Primary    Clarion    32 pp.    g
1/20    978-0-544-78581-6    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-0-358-16693-1    $12.99

Waiting for spring can wear on one’s patience, but readers may find comfort sharing the burden with Ethan and his (apparently single-parent) father, who go through their daily routines looking forward to warmer days, shorter nights, and running sap in their maple trees. Still, Ethan has quite a wait yet, and as time passes, the illustrations show the stark contrasts of dark skies and long shadows with indoor lights and white snow. And, week after week, Ethan faces Sunday breakfast sans maple syrup, while the nights remain long and the days cold. A loose tooth provides a break in the monotony but ultimately creates yet another thing to wait for. Through muted colors with pops of red and well-considered details, artfully placed illustrations ranging from spot art to double-page spreads capture the relentlessness of winter, the budding of spring, and the easy comfort of this father-and-son relationship. Crisp text supplies just the right pace for the story and clearly explains the sugaring process without disrupting the flow of the narrative. The subtle visual cues that the season is slowly changing become more evident with every page-turn until the sweet and satisfying conclusion.

From the January/February 2020 Horn Book Magazine.

Julie Roach
Julie Roach

Julie Roach, chair of the 2020 Caldecott Committee, manages youth services at the Cambridge Public Library in Massachusetts. She also teaches children’s literature at Simmons University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science and at Lesley University.

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