cover image Sugarbush Spring

Sugarbush Spring

Marsha Wilson Chall. HarperCollins, $17.99 (24pp) ISBN 978-0-688-14907-9

This evocative tale illuminates life on a northern farm in early spring, when ""the snow's too wet for angel making"" and the sap's on the rise. The girl narrator rides with her grandfather on a horse-drawn sleigh filled with pails to hang on the taps they will soon place in the sugar maples. As the two search for prospects, Grandpa explains how to pick them: one tree is too old to tap (""She's given and given till she's nearly given out"") and another is too young (""She needs all the sugar she makes this year. She'll be ready when she fills up your arms""). Chall (Up North at the Cabin) maintains this folksy yet informative tone throughout her account, marrying concrete information, such as the 219-degree boiling point of the sap, with more atmospheric descriptions of the sugarhouse itself. Rendered in oil on board, Daly's (Mother, I Love You) nearly photographic paintings endow the picturesque interior and outdoor settings with a feeling of timelessness. The artist's devotion to detail--the gleam of light on freshly washed glass jars that will be filled with syrup and the distinct grain of the wood on the sugarhouse walls--contributes to the tactile quality of the volume. Ages 6-up. (Jan.)