cover image The Sugaring-Off Party

The Sugaring-Off Party

Jonathan London. Dutton Books, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-45187-7

Tapping into the experiences of his wife's French-Canadian family, London (Let's Go, Froggy; The Owl Who Became the Moon) infuses this tale with warmth and authenticity. Paul snuggles on the sofa with Grand-mere and hears the story of her first sugaring-off party-a fete celebrating the spring flow of sap from the maple trees. London, with a poet's sensitivity for nuance and atmosphere, captures in prose the very essence of happy family rituals. Grand-mere tells of snow fights, vats of sap boiling on the wood stove, rich food, dancing, ornery cousins and sleigh rides. ``You must come back next year,'' Grand-mere recalls being told by a favorite aunt. ``It's a tradition, n'est-ce pas? And we must keep our traditions alive.'' This sweet appeal is echoed in Pelletier's distinctive folk art. Using thick, glowing oils to build detailed compositions, the artist evokes the merriment and innocent mischief of a finger-licking good time. Ages 3-7. (Jan.)