cover image Runaway Pond

Runaway Pond

Nancy Price Graff, illus. by Bagram Ibatoulline. Candlewick, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5362-1998-2

This piece of Americana commemorates a rural Vermont community built around a clear pond that is “long and narrow and bent in the middle, like a crooked finger.” Expertly drafted Rockwellian spreads by Ibatoulline (The Hawk of the Castle) display the beauty of the pond, and the log cabins built around it, through every season. An annual footrace during Fourth of July celebrations is always won by a young villager named Spencer Chamberlain. When a torrential summer rain one year threatens the dam at the pond’s end and the villagers that live below it, Chamberlain outruns the resulting flood for five miles, warning villagers along the way to move to higher ground. No lives are lost, but the pond drains away; in its place, a marsh grows. Graff (Taking Wing) concludes the tale by cataloging its beauties, just as captivating as the pond’s, including “marsh marigolds as brilliant as bars of gold.” The story foregrounds both Chamberlain’s achievement and the changes wrought by a larger environmental transformation, leading to new generations finding new wonders following a period of loss and change. Most characters read as white. A concluding message supplies the story’s real-life history. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)