cover image Baby in a Basket

Baby in a Basket

Gloria Rand. Dutton Books, $14.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-65233-5

Based on a true adventure, this gripping tale begins in the Alaskan winter darkness in January 1917. A mother settles into a fur-lined sleigh with her three-year-old daughter and her four-month-old baby, who is sleeping in a basket. Accompanied by two drivers and two other passengers, pulled by six horses, they embark on a 10-day journey over mountains and through capricious weather. One stormy night, the lead horse panics on a narrow log bridge, hurling the passengers into the half-frozen river below. Narrowly surviving, the party crawls to a nearby lodge--but without the baby. Soon, however, tragedy is averted, as the baby is delivered in her basket, carried by fur trappers from downriver. The pacing is steady for scene-setting and swift for the crisis, and the details are well-chosen. The text works hand-in-hand with the versatile watercolors that depict both the natural wonders and the emotional extremes of the journey--from an aerial view of tiny sleigh-travelers pointing up at an immense snowy owl to the terror of the passengers as they are unseated. Together the Rands sustain a pleasurable tension that inspires in the reader a desire to linger as well as a hushed anticipation of what lies next. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)