LOON SUMMER

Barbara Santucci, Author, Andrea Shine, Illustrator
Barbara Santucci, Author, Andrea Shine, Illustrator , illus. by Andrea Shine. Eerdmans $16 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8028-5182-6
Reviewed on: 05/28/2001
Release date: 04/01/2005
Paperback - 32 pages - 978-0-8028-5389-9
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Santucci makes her picture book debut with a delicate story about a girl and her father, who are spending their first summer at the lake without the girl's mother. As they watch a pair of loons on the water, the child asks her father, "You told me loons stay together for life.... Why can't you and Mom?" Her father responds, "Things change [but] some parts will be the same." Yet the differences—and her mother's absence—loom large: the youngster makes a flower necklace by herself, placing it over her head like her mother "always did"; and when Rainie and her father eat blueberries right off the bushes rather than bring them home so that her mother could make jam, the girl concedes, "They still taste sweet." Rainie narrates, but while Santucci's language is graceful, it occasionally veers from a childlike sensibility ("I sit on the greening grass"; the loons fly "with their necks stretched south"), and Rainie's emotional growth feels somewhat forced. A subtle, inventive meshing of watercolors and cut-paper, Shine's (The Summer My Father Was Ten) textured art captures the child's emotional swings and her bond with her father, as well as the serenity of the lakeside setting. Especially impressive is the illustrator's use of light and color to create fittingly changing skyscapes. Ages 5-up. (May)

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