cover image Children of Long Ago

Children of Long Ago

Lessie Jones Little. Philomel Books, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-21473-8

Gilchrist's sweeping pastel illustrations summon readers and draw them into Little's affecting, nostalgic text about children in the past, who ``ate picnics under spreading trees,/ Played hopscotch on the cool dirt yards, / Picked juicy grapes from broad grapevines,/ Pulled beets and potatoes from the ground,/ Those children of long ago.'' These statuesque children are every shade of brown, from cinnamon in the sunlight to a lustrous cocoa that glows in the light of oil-filled lamps; a rural setting in the early 1900s is the backdrop for these transcendent and evocative images. A girl tells her grandmother, ``Your eyeglasses are pretty and thin and clear / With long gold arms that hug your ears.'' Another girl addresses ``Mr. Empty Woodbox'': ``How can Mama make a meal/ When there's no wood for fire?'' The answer is her own hard workshe runs off to gather wood. By turns playful and wistful, both text and pictures recreate a warm mood of American domesticity that readers will linger over. All ages. (April)