cover image Shaker Lane: 9

Shaker Lane: 9

Alice Provensen, Martin Provensen. Viking Children's Books, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-670-81568-5

The Herkimer sisters live in their big house on the hillside of Shaker Lane and sell off pieces of their farm whenever they need a little money. Soon a whole community is settled there: Virgil Oates builds his house first; Sam Kulick and Norbert La Rose become his new neighbors. The place is filled with life and activity, large families, a variety of animals, discarded furniture left in yards, stove pipes, bed springs and tin cans left to rust. Old Man Van Sloop's house is open for dogs and other animals to come and go as they like. Then comes the news that the place is going to be flooded when a dam and reservoir are constructedand everyone has to move out. The area is chewed up by a bulldozer, and the dam water of Bosey's Pond slowly covers everything but the Herkimer House on the hill. The suburban setting of Reservoir Road replaces Shaker Lane with tidy houses, lawns and real roads. But one person shows up in a houseboat with his animals and a fine collection of antiques. ""I like the water,'' says Old Man Van Sloop. The Provensens have provided readers with a classic portrait of the very special bond between pride of place and the American psyche. Old Man Van Sloop, no less a hero than Noah, personifies the triumph of hope and innovation over forgetfulness and dislocation. Children playing baseball, a young couple strolling with a baby carriage, the Herkimer sisters standing with clasped hands, watching the floodthese are some of the artfully finished touches in the paintings. The open road of the countryside, the rusty colors of the houses and the cluttered forms of furniture pieces in junkyards make Shaker Lane an unforgettable piece of real estate. All ages. (October)