SUN DANCE WATER DANCE

Jonathan London, Author, Greg Couch, Illustrator, Terry Widener, Illustrator , illus. by Greg Couch. Dutton $15.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-525-46682-6

This imagistic chronicle of children playing and swimming in a river on a hot day casts a dreamy sort of spell—although both art and text distance readers from the action. London's (White Water, reviewed below) poem focuses primarily on the physical sensations of the children as they plunge into the water or run back to shore, but he couches many of his descriptions in adult language. The child-narrator says, "We play in the sun/ like a dance," and continues, "[we] dally in the brilliance/ of heat/ radiating/ off our shining bodies." When the children plunge into the river, their "bones turn/ to icicles," but they also "feel/ that snowmelt water/ from the high mountains/ in our blood." Complex and action-filled, Couch's (The Cello of Mr. O) intriguing designs and textured hues contrast with the naturalistic focus of the text. His exquisite watercolors alternate bursts of color—the children themselves turn yellow-gold or purplish blue as they choose to bake in the sun or cool off in the river. These characters look flat, almost like brightly colored shadow puppets. In metaphorical moments, the artist shows the sun burning inside a boy's chest or lets readers see the drinks from the cooler wash through the children's transparent bodies and back to the river. An interesting, if sometimes inaccessible, book. Ages 4-8. (June)

Reviewed on: 06/11/2001
Release date: 06/01/2001
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