NONNA'S PORCH

Rita Gray, Author, Terry Widener, Illustrator
Rita Gray, Author, Terry Widener, Illustrator , illus. by Terry Widener. Hyperion $15.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7868-1613-2
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Nonna isn't one of those bustling-about grandmothers. During the course of a summer day, as she sits, rocks and knits ("Click Click Click Click" go her needles), she and her wood-frame porch seem like a single entity—a feeling aptly summed up in debuting author Gray's refrain, "Nonna's porch is very still." In the early morning, the tranquility is barely broken by some visiting woodland animals, including a chattering chipmunk ("Chip Chip Chip Chip") that boldly ventures up near Nonna's knitting basket. Even the larking about of rambunctious grandchildren (playing a spirited game of hide-and-seek among the trees and bushes, and frolicking with the garden hose) cannot ruffle Nonna's calm constancy. "Nonna's porch is very still,/ Except for the sound of rainbow spray.../ Whooooooossssssshhhh! / Arched across the grass." The swirl of activity around Nonna culminates in a bountiful family feast; the coda comes at moonrise, when Nonna puts her needles down to snuggle the narrator, wrapped in a homemade quilt. Widener's (The Firefighters' Thanksgiving , reviewed Sept. 27) warm-toned, strongly geometric pictures bring to mind classic WPA murals and gently anchor Gray's free-form text. He makes the domestic magic that radiates from the front porch seem almost palpable. Even youngest readers will grasp that Nonna, in her serene stillness, animates everything and everyone in her vicinity. Ages 4-7. (Oct.)

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