A Little Lower Than the Angels) meditation on time, serenely illuminated by Lambert (Nobody Rides the Unicorn

MY GRANDMOTHER'S CLOCK

Geraldine McCaughrean, Author, Stephen Lambert, Illustrator , illus. by Stephen Lambert. Clarion $15 (32p) ISBN 978-0-618-21695-6

McCaughrean's (A Little Lower Than the Angels) meditation on time, serenely illuminated by Lambert (Nobody Rides the Unicorn), unfolds through the warm relationship between a girl narrator and her grandmother. A sandy-haired girl tells Grandma she ought to fix the grandfather clock in the hall; Grandma, at work in the kitchen, says, "Why... when I have so many other clocks telling me the time?" When the girl, holding a cat in her arms as her grandmother mixes batter, asks, "Where?" The woman's leisurely response creates the effect of slowing down time: "I can count the seconds by the beating of my heart. Have you ever noticed how the seconds go by much quicker when life is exciting?" Lambert's full-bleed pastel spreads, lit with the muted sunlight of the English coast, depict birds in flight and shadows extending from a magnolia tree in full bloom as they mark the passing seasons. The increments of time Grandma describes grow longer and increasingly abstract ("A lifetime, of course, you can measure in all kinds of ways: in birthdays/ in friends/ in what you own…/ or in what you remember"), especially when she reaches infinity ("the stars tell us that Time's just/ too big to fit inside any watch or clock"). But the girl narrator brings the text full circle and back down to earth with a quiet joke. If the time-measurement theme becomes a bit tedious for some readers, Lambert's flower-dotted hillsides and affectionately drawn characters will keep them involved. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/15/2002
Release date: 09/01/2002
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