cover image Island Summer

Island Summer

Catherine Stock. HarperCollins Publishers, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-688-12780-0

Stock (Miss Viola and Uncle Ed Lee; the Gus and Grandpa books) sketches an affectionate portrait of summertime on a Greek island. Empty during the winter and early spring, a sleepy town begins to stir as the weather warms and the mainland inhabitants arrive to spruce up the streets and houses for the summer people. Full-spread pencil and watercolor pictures reveal an increasingly bustling village, with brightly clad tourists providing an effective contrast to the subtle hues of the local scenery--the soothing blue of the sea, the soft earth tones of the countryside, the cool white of the buildings. Close study of the pictures will reward kids: amid the activity, two youngsters on a rooftop prepare to drop water balloons on the folk below; a boy teases two alarmed girls with what appears to be a crab or crayfish). But the narrative repeatedly bogs down with wordy descriptions. Of springtime, for example, Stock writes, ""Then, slowly, the sun grows stronger, squeezing the wild wind into a soft spring breeze. It soothes the angry waves into a flat, shimmering sea and soaks up the muddy puddles like freshly baked pound cake sops up melted chocolate."" Though the tour is scenic, the prose is a bit sticky for most tastes. Ages 5-up. (July)