cover image IN THE PINEY WOODS


Roni Schotter, , illus. by Kimberly Bulcken Root. . FSG/Kroupa, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-33623-3

Working in the same vein as Barbara Santucci's and Lloyd Bloom's Anna's Corn (Children's Forecasts, Oct. 7), Schotter (Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street) brings a gentle hand to the big questions of death and rebirth, while Root's (Birdie's Lighthouse) intimate watercolors convey a joy tempered by grief, and grief healed with love. Ella lives with her extended family in the house her grandfather built when he was "strong and straight and singing." He's old now; he speaks in short phrases and can't walk far. Still, he and Ella explore the nearby pine barrens together. He shows her dwarf pitch pine cones that need to be seared by fire before they'll open to release their seeds. "Waiting," Grandpa tells her. "Everything has its time." Sure enough, a fire comes during the last months of Grandpa's life, and Ella has a chance to show him an opened cone just before he dies; she then plants one of its seeds by his grave. That spring, Ella's sister, Sada, has a new baby, to whom Ella can pass on Grandpa's teachings. Root shows the family overflowing with affection. On one page, they sit around the table eating blueberry muffins, stained and smeared; in another spread, when Grandpa's legs "aren't working well," the others carry him on their shoulders, a joyous procession into the piney woods. Ages 5-up. (Mar.)