cover image A Net to Catch Time

A Net to Catch Time

Sara Harrell Banks. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $16 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-679-86673-2

The ""net to catch time"" of this evocative book's title would be language itself--more specifically, the dialect of the vanishing Gullah culture. A Gullah boy, Cuffy, is fast asleep while his fisherman father casts his nets at ""Sooner Mornin',"" the first of 14 stages of time in the Gullah day. Cuffy's own day begins at First Fowl Crow, and by First-Whistle Blow he is in the sea shallows hunting for crabs. At Sun Lay Over, ""the hottest part of the day,"" his grandmother is making deviled crabs; at Sun Lay Way Over, Cuffy sells them to the people arriving on the ferry boat from the mainland. Banks (Remember My Name) lyrically incorporates a host of Gullah words and phrases into her sweet, satisfying tale of a loving family. Suggesting a setting of at least several decades ago, Cook's (Nettie Jo's Friends) well-matched illustrations paint an island made hazy with sunlight, softly drawn in pastels flecked with gold. His comfortable-looking characters look as warmhearted as they sound in the text. An author's note supplies historical information about the birth of Gullah culture on Georgia barrier islands in the 1800s. Ages 3-8. (Dec.)