cover image Nora's Ark

Nora's Ark

Natalie Kinsey-Warnock, , illus. by Emily Arnold McCully. . HarperCollins, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-688-17244-2

There's nothing like a helping hand from a good neighbor—especially when disaster strikes. Young Wren witnesses this lesson firsthand when she and her grandparents end up smack in the middle of the Vermont flood of November 1927. As she did with her From Dawn Till Dusk , Kinsey-Warnock once again blends history, drama and good old-fashioned storytelling in a picture book that makes these true events relevant to young readers. Life on Grandma and Grandpa's farm isn't particularly easy, but there's always plenty to eat and lots to do. When Grandpa Horace starts building a more modern farmhouse, high atop the nearby hill, Grandma Nora says she doesn't need such a luxury: "That new house is just gravy," she reasons. But the house, finished just before the heavy rains arrived, turns out to be a lifesaver in more ways than one. Neighbors, many with animals in tow, seek higher ground—and find it—at Nora's. As the waters rise, so does the number of shelter-seekers, making the house look indeed like the ark of the book's title. McCully (Mirette on the High Wire ) works in watercolors whose palette suggests the era. Her use of chintz patterns and clever details in the snug house as well as bucolic landscapes bring readers right into the action. Nora's hard-as-steel exterior changes dramatically as the tide turns, and her softening makes this a poignant tale of people pulling together when it counts. Ages 4-9. (July)