River Day

Jane B. Mason, Author, Henri Sorensen, Illustrator
Jane B. Mason, Author, Henri Sorensen, Illustrator MacMillan Publishing Company $14.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-02-762869-2
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Sorensen's ( What Does the Rain Play? ) breathtaking paintings outshine newcomer Mason's text in this slow-moving story. Alex and her grandfather spend a day canoeing, with Alex fervently hoping to ``see that eagle this time.'' Unfortunately, the slight suspense generated by Alex's desire is not enough to sustain the static plot. At each turn of the page, Alex and her grandfather notice something new--the shallow water that looks ``like brown sea glass,'' the seaweed they call ``witches' hair''--but the quiet pace of the book too often prompts the reader to respond, as Alex does when she sees the trout, with a polite ``Hmmmm.'' A reliance on cliches further mars the prose. Grampa ``grinned from ear to ear,'' a rock is ``flat as a pancake,'' Alex's heart ``skipped a beat'' and, when she is disappointed about not seeing the eagle, ``all at once, her bottom lip began to tremble.'' Far more suggestive are Sorensen's paintings. With their varied studies of the shoreline and of light glittering on the surface of the river, they confer grace and intelligence on an otherwise merely serviceable entry. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)
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