cover image To Climb a Waterfall

To Climb a Waterfall

Jean Craighead George, Thomas Locker. Philomel Books, $16.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-399-22673-1

In an opening Hudson River Valley scene of trees, mountains, water and mist, the reader is told ``to climb a waterfall, go to the foot of the mountains.'' From there, an unnamed, barefoot child called ``you'' hikes up the course of a stream, through a trout pool and on up the canyon: ``Turn over the rocks. If you are lucky you'll find a two-lined salamander.'' No salamander is visible, however; the creatures mentioned in the concise, detailed text often do not appear in the illustrations, dreamily beautiful landscapes viewed with awe from a distance. The use of the second person distances the reader still further. At the conclusion, for example, George (who collaborated with Locker on The First Thanksgiving) asserts that ``the waterfall is now part of you.'' It's probably not a part of the reader, though, because Locker's sweeping oil paintings do not allow for the types of encounters with specific wood and stream creatures which fuel George's story. An unfortunate mismatch. Ages 4-up. (Mar.)