cover image Almost Time

Almost Time

Gary D. Schmidt and Elizabeth Stickney, illus. by G. Brian Karas. Clarion, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-544-78581-6

Set in maple sugaring country, this tale by Schmidt (Pay Attention, Carter Jones) and Stickney (the pen name of Schmidt’s late wife) examines the difficulty of waiting for exciting things when they unfold at the natural world’s pace. Ethan knows what season it is by the breakfast he’s served: “When Ethan had to eat his pancakes with applesauce instead of maple syrup one Sunday morning, he knew it was almost sugaring time.” But it’s still several weeks before the days are warm enough for the sap to run. Illustrations by Karas (Night Job) use soft, wintry colors with grainy textures as Ethan discovers a loose tooth (“Now Ethan had two things to wait for”). He spends his days wiggling his tooth, sledding, and trying “not to think about maple syrup.” When the tooth comes out and the sap runs at last (a spread shows pails hanging on the family’s trees), Ethan and his dad share the work of making syrup, captured in a series of panel illustrations. Schmidt’s story centers on a single-parent household, with a father who pays quiet attention to his son (“How’s that tooth?”), and shows him that waiting is part of life. Ages 4–7. [em](Jan.) [/em]