cover image Tadpoles


Matt James. Holiday House/Porter, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8234-5005-3

This thoughtful stream-of-consciousness outing from James (The Funeral) is voiced by a child who hunts for tadpoles with their father one rainy spring. In the field across from the child’s school, there’s an old silo. “Once,” the narrator remembers, “when my dad first moved to his new place, I stood in the silo and yelled every single swear word that I know.” After sound is shown emanating from the building, the father appears, then kneels and embraces the child. “I guess I was worried that he wouldn’t love me anymore, but my dad says that some things never change.” Now the two, portrayed with pale skin, wade through the pond that’s formed in the field, looking among the tadpoles for froglets (“My dad says that puddles like these are called ephemeral ponds”). Wordless spreads show the protagonist saying farewell to Dad with a small, brave smile, suggesting that the duo’s ebb and flow has grown easier. Multimedia art’s spattered, stroked textures convey the feel of pages left out in a storm in James’s portrait of transition, throughout which the setting and its fluctuating features prove quiet symbols of seasonal and personal transformation, as well as change as a sure thing. Ages 4–8. Agent: Jackie Kaiser, Westwood Creative Arts. (May)