Old Home Day

Donald Hall, Author, Emily Arnold McCully, Illustrator Browndeer Press $16 (0p) ISBN 978-0-15-276896-6
Hall's (Ox-Cart Man) eloquent reflection on the cyclical nature of time and Caldecott winner McCully's (Mirette on the High Wire) graceful watercolors combine for a distinctive, heartfelt portrait of a New Hampshire town. The accomplished poet begins his tale tens of thousands of years ago, ""when the ice mountain melted north [and] scraped trenches and dents in the valleys between the hills."" A pond is created; much later come the ""tribes of arrow makers,"" the trappers and eventually the first permanent settlers, farmers and tradespeople who establish the village of Blackwater. After following the strands of specific families throughout the generations, Hall explains how the governor's 1899 proclamation of ""Old Home Day"" encouraged everyone who had moved away from the state to come back to visit at the same time each year. Adroitly chronicling the passing years, McCully's paintings offer some sad images (the abandoned farmhouse of the area's first settler) as well as joyous scenes (Blackwater's bicentennial celebration, set without special comment in the summer of 1999). Capturing lush, verdant hillsides, the brilliant hues of fall foliage and period particulars, her art harmoniously echoes Hall's tribute to the timeless beauty of a New England village throughout many seasons. In a concluding note, Hall writes that he himself lives in a New Hampshire town, which is almost an unnecessary disclosure: from the start, his soulful narrative betrays his deep affection for this region. All ages. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
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