cover image The Waterfall

The Waterfall

Jonathan London, Jill Kastner. Viking Children's Books, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-670-87617-4

With the feel of a real-life family outing, this modest tale rests on London's (Dream Weaver) close observation of nature and his ability to convey a child's thrill in discovery. One of two brothers describes his family's hike along a stream that eventually leads to a roaring waterfall, which the narrator instantly decides he wants to climb. "" `No way,' [says] Dad. `End of the road.' "" The next day turns into one of unexpected triumphs, first when the boys scale the waterfall, then when they coach and coax Mom and Dad as they climb it, too: ""I never felt more anxious--seeing my parents clinging to that sheer rock--or more proud, either,"" says the narrator. While London offers specific descriptions (e.g., for protection against the sun, ""We cut leaves of Indian rhubarb as wide as elephants' ears, and tied them on our heads with vines""), Kastner (Snake Hunt) blurs the details with impressionistic strokes, inviting readers into a realm of leafy green and shadowy rock. The surface energy of her paintings exudes the protagonists' excitement and wonder. Ages 3-8. (Mar.)