cover image The Bell in the Bridge

The Bell in the Bridge

Ted Kooser, illus. by Barry Root. Candlewick, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6481-7

This warm, golden-tinged story from the duo behind Bag in the Wind (2010) moves slowly through a summer vacation as Charlie, staying with his grandparents for two weeks, passes the time by exploring outside—“Anything was better than sitting in the house waiting for something interesting to happen.” He catches tadpoles, prods baby turtles, and discovers a big metal bridge over a stream that offers new amusements. He pushes stones over the side, “ker-ploosh, ker-ploosh, ker-ploosh,” and discovers that if he hits the bridge with a stone, it resounds satisfyingly (“He could feel it ringing right up through his shoes”) and echoes in the distance. Sometimes there’s a second sound, an answering sound, which suggests that there’s someone out there banging back. How? Kooser doesn’t supply any miracles; instead, he holds out the possibility of a mysterious friendship in a place Charlie hadn’t thought to find it. Root’s watercolor and gouache landscapes reveal beauty in the woods and water that surround Charlie’s grandparents’ house, and he and Kooser succeed in making them grow as dear to readers as they do to Charlie. Ages 6–9. (May)