cover image On Call Back Mountain

On Call Back Mountain

Eve Bunting. Scholastic, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-590-25929-3

Bunting and Moser demonstrate their craftsmanship with this carefully calibrated tale. The narrator and his younger brother live at the foot of Call Back Mountain, ""on the very edge of the wilderness."" Their only neighbor is Bosco Burak, the summer lookout in the fire tower 15 miles away. His annual arrival is the highlight of the boys' year; they look forward to the single night he spends with them as he travels to the tower, his goods piled atop his mules Aida and Traviata (he calls them ""the ladies""). Every night, all summer long, the boys flash their lanterns to say good night to Bosco. But one night he fails to signal back, and the boys' parents climb the mountain to discover that he has died. The grieving boys spy an unusually long-legged wolf; as they marvel at the return of the wolf after fire drove the wild animals away a few years earlier, they are at the same time reminded of the unusually long-legged Bosco. They wonderingly recall Bosco's belief that ""any creature that loves the wilderness will always come back."" This is a quiet, understated story that raises questions without fretting over answers. Moser's paintings mirror the tale's subtlety, doing justice to the wilderness setting, and flourishing within the confined palette of night scenes. Ages 4-up. (Mar.)