Mama, Is It Summer Yet?

Nikki McClure, Author . Abrams $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8109-8468-4

In a world of full-color picture books, black and white illustrations have to work a little harder to get noticed. Yet as in her previous book, Cynthia Rylant's All in a Day , McClure's cut-paper scenes do more than just support the story; they form its heart. In contrast to the sweet domesticity of the writing (“Mama, is it summer yet? Not yet, my little one. But the buds are swelling. Soon new leaves will unfold”), the bold outlines of the images convey strength. The substantial yet delicate lines that outline the figures and objects possess a visual rhythm, creating forms that repeat or echo (a ball of twine recalls a tree branch, swallows' heavily stylized tails mimic ripples in a pond). Set against pale yellow and accented with other cheery colors, idyllic scenes unfold as summer approaches: mother and son gather sticks for a shelter (while a squirrel steals their twine), craft a wind sock, and put on rubber boots and go canoeing. When summer finally comes, readers will rejoice with the boy. McClure's deceptively simple work carries unexpected visual force and real pleasure. Ages 4–up. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/05/2010
Release date: 05/01/2010
Genre: Children's
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