cover image BLUE BOWL DOWN: An Appalachian Rhyme

BLUE BOWL DOWN: An Appalachian Rhyme

C. M. Millen, , illus. by Holly Meade. . Candlewick, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-1817-9

As the sun sets in the Appalachian mountains, a redheaded toddler takes down a big blue bowl from the shelf and joins his mother in a time-honored evening tradition: making the bread dough, so it can rise overnight and be ready for baking early the next morning. Millen's (A Symphony for the Sheep ) verse brings to mind the plaintive lilt and incantatory repetition of a lullaby: "Light the lantern, little baby./ Light the lantern, little baby./ Strike the match upon the stove./ Light the wick and make it glow/ on the blue bowl, little baby." Meade (A Place to Sleep ) composes her watercolor and collage pictures from simple shapes and soft, earthy hues, gently stylizing her characters and setting to give them a comforting, homespun feel. She lyrically captures the sensations, choreography and emotional investment that go into the task: the white cascade of flour from a sifter, the concerted effort by the toddler to knead the dough (the musculature under his baby fat seems almost palpable), the shooing away of the inquisitive cat. Readers will easily imagine the sound of crickets serenading the night or the aroma of the freshly baked bread welcoming the toddler at breakfast time. Ages 2-5. (May)