cover image Fishing in the Air

Fishing in the Air

Sharon Creech. HarperCollins, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-028111-3

In an inspired pairing, Creech and Raschka combine their considerable talents for the poignant exploration of the ties that bind one generation to another. Creech (The Wanderer) sets the stage for a father-son fishing expedition that's about much more than catching supper. As the two start out in the ""blue-black"" early morning, the father tells his son, ""We'll catch the air! We'll catch the breeze!"" The father fires his son's fancy, pointing out street lamps like ""tiny moons"" and trees like ""tall green soldiers standing at attention""; Raschka (Yo! Yes?) subtly traces their transformation across neat horizontal rows. When the pair reaches the river, the man drops his line into the water at the top left-hand corner of the spread while the boy casts his line into the air from the bottom right-hand corner of the spread. The father then enters a reverie, recounting memories of his childhood home to his son, in a narrative that winds as gracefully and smoothly as the river itself; in a cumulative echo, the son prompts him to fill in more details. Raschka gradually incorporates each new detail in his illustrations until the reverie overtakes the page; the two characters, once upright, now seem to float like Chagall figures across the spreads, or somersault down the sides-always remaining separate yet answering each other visually as much as verbally. This gradual building up of narrative and illustrative brush strokes erupts in a glorious climax, in which the father expresses his nostalgia for that lost time (""Oh, where is that house?? And where are those fields and that river and that father and that boy?""), and the boy and the father now reach for each other, the father having caught his son's line (the little boy having answered, ""Right here""). Creech's narrative is more poetry than prose; her quicksilver description and quietly repetitive phrases serve to deepen the growing connection between father and son, and her images are made for Raschka's brush. Author and artist evoke an idyllic outing between parent and child and demonstrate that while they may return empty-handed, their hearts are full. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)