Julie Larios, Author, Handprint, Author, Anne Hunter, Illustrator , illus. by Anne Hunter. Front Street $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-886910-49-2

"Have you ever slept outside on a hot summer night?/ Everything looks different/ in the moon's strange light" begins Larios's (On the Stairs) lyrical ode to the wonders of nature. The title acts as the volume's gently probing refrain. Without sounding preachy and with the age range of her audience firmly in mind, the author urges readers to seize the small and big opportunities that life offers. It may mean camping out on a summer night or something with bigger stakes, such as flying "out across the river/ on a rope" and then letting go, even though the water below is "deep and cold and black." Hunter's (Possum's Harvest Moon) exquisite watercolors mirror the quiet intensity and sensuality of the verse. Her artwork ranges from a double-spread landscape of towering cornstalks to a boat in a storm with the sun breaking through the clouds. The poignant portrait of a swaddled baby crow takes the text one step further, showing the adult crow after it's been nursed back to health. With subtle cross-hatching and muted colors, Hunter brings an intriguing tension to every picture—and conveys the message that, for those willing to look a little harder and risk a little more, life-changing surprises and revelations await. Ages 2-6. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 10/22/2001
Release date: 09/01/1997
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