cover image SUGAR ON SNOW


Nan Parson Rossiter, . . Dutton, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-46910-0

In Rossiter's (Rugby & Rosie) cordial if somewhat stilted tale, two brothers and their parents spend a March day gathering sap from maple trees on their farm. As the children anticipate the mission, their mother assures them that there will be "lots to help with—including the tasting." At times, the narrative resembles a television script from a bygone era: "The boys grinned at each other, and Mom laughed. 'Go wash up for dinner. If you're going to help with anything, you need to keep up your strength.' " Children are more likely to respond to concrete details such as Dad's comments to the boys, "Sap is mostly water, you know. Syrup is what's left after most of the water boils off. Forty gallons of sap make only one gallon of maple syrup!" The idyllic paintings, which show the spring sunlight on snowy New England vistas may well enthrall readers, but they add few details to the sugaring process. Natalie Kinsey-Warnock's recent From Dawn Till Dusk, illus. by Mary Azarian (Children's Forecasts, Sept. 2), offers a clearer overview of how sap becomes syrup. Most engaging here are Rossiter's light-filled paintings chronicling the day's work, which convey the boys' earnestness and eagerness to help. Ages 5-9. (Jan.)