cover image Matthew's Meadow

Matthew's Meadow

Corinne Demas, Corinne Demas Bliss, Corrine D. Bliss. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $15 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200759-1

When he wants to be alone, nine-year-old Matthew hikes up to the sky-filled meadow cleared by his grandmother. There one day he hears a hawk speak, and so begins an annual ritual in which the bird instructs the boy about his special kinship with life, an awareness that gradually pushes the limits of Matthew's senses as he communes with nature. In an admirable attempt to capture the butterflies of mystical experience, Bliss's heavy-handed text smothers the potential poetry: ``When Matthew was thirteen he learned to taste all the intricacies of an apple . . . At night he could feel the moonlight as it touched him and the starlight that tingled on his skin.'' For some thoughtful readers, this book may reinforce a sense of nature's transcendental power on the psyche; others may squirm at the affected overtones. Lewin's watercolors evoke two separate worlds--the familiar meadows of small boys with baseball caps and the inner landscapes where human beings touch the cosmos. Although Lewin paints everyday realities handsomely, Bliss's imagistic flights apparently did not inspire him beyond a cliched blue palette and trite images of serene faces with closed eyes. Ages 6-10. (Mar . )