cover image Worksong


Gary Paulsen. Harcourt Children's Books, $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200980-9

From truck driver to cafeteria cook, from nurse to deep-sea diver--""All the things there are to be"" gather together in this gentle rhyming hymn to the dignity of work. Here, work is the common tie that binds, rather than the distinction that sets individuals apart. In both words and pictures, the efforts of people who spend themselves in everyday work muster a communal force--whether it is a group of office workers at their ""glowing screens,"" the truck-farming duo of father and daughter arranging their produce, or the solitary roofer. Gary Paulsen's couplets sometimes strike a whimsical note (""ice cream cones to lick and wear""), but more often touch the heart (""gentle arms that lift and hold,/ and all the soldiers brave and bold""). Ruth Wright Paulsen's textured, slightly muted oil paintings enrich the text and set off an emotional reverberation. Throughout, the subtlety of gestures (rather than facial expressions) and of concrete words (rather than feelings) keeps sentimentality at bay. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)