cover image Nettie's Gift Rnf

Nettie's Gift Rnf

Susan Tews, Elizabeth Sayles. Clarion Books, $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-395-59027-0

One darkening fall afternoon--ideal for gathering hickory nuts--lonely Sarah treks ``past rows and rows of corn stubble'' to her grandparents' farm. Grandmother Nettie leads her to the fruitful shagbark tree near the site of the old homestead, recollecting her own solitary recreation as a girl. Then she leaves her granddaughter to play under the tree. When Sarah works an old water pump, it sprinkles her hands with ``nutmeg-colored rust'' and transports her mind to another time. She hears a young Nettie giggling behind a tree; pretending that the child is playing with her, Sarah ``laughs loud enough for two.'' Hunting for nuts, Nettie leads Sarah to a huge pile mysteriously clustered around the base of the pump. That evening Sarah returns to her grandparents' farmhouse, where make-believe and reality comfortably fuse. Rhythmic, fluid prose marks Tews's first book--observations about childhood, loneliness and her bucolic setting are presented in a winning and realistic voice. Sayles's autumn pastel illustrations lure readers into a wistful late-afternoon light where sharp edges are blurred and fading forms catch bits of sun in luminous patches--creating an ideal mood for a girl to discover the wealth of her solitude. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)