cover image Over Back

Over Back

Beverly Major. HarperCollins Publishers, $15 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-020286-6

In this nostalgic tribute to the simple joys found in wading in a quiet country creek or exploring the land ``over across the fields, back behind the barn,'' a pigtailed girl guides the reader through a typical day ``over back.'' This idyllic spot can be explored ``with your brother or your sister or your cousin or your friend''; you can ``climb on the stone wall that borders the lane and you wait for Ginger, the dusty brown cow.'' Allen's scumbled charcoal drawings, if not as arresting as his illustrations for In Coal Country, set the appropriate tone for the girl's chatty expedition. Though Major's text is filled with striking imagery, youngsters may be put off by the absence of any story--the wordy, meandering series of quiet actions is sprinkled with such descriptions as needles mounting beneath pine trees ``like a blanket covering their toes''; ``leaping and twisting without a sound, deer are as light as milkweed-down blown in the wind.'' In their scrupulous attention to detail, both author and artist share their affection and reverence for the natural world. Ages 5-9. (Feb.)