cover image Across America, I Love You

Across America, I Love You

Christine Loomis. Hyperion Books, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-0366-8

Loomis (Cowboy Bunnies) assumes the poetic voice of a mother addressing a child as she draws parallels between this country's natural phenomena and a youngster who is growing increasingly independent. As the narrative opens, California sequoias ""cradle the Western sky""; Kiesler's (A Blizzard Year) three-quarter-page illustration depicts a grove of the giant trees, and above the text, spot art features a mother cradling her baby girl. Later, in one of the strongest paintings, spring flowers in a Southwestern desert suggest the girl's own blossoming (""You will surprise me when you bloom all at once and with little warning. I will celebrate your surprises""). Though several of the paintings are disappointingly static and muted, the intentionally grainy oil paintings reflect the dramatic shifts in geographical locales, from the craggy Pacific coastline to the snowy woods of the North. The unwavering, nurturing tone of the text, for the most part, coheres well to the diverse nature scenes depicted, offering reassurance and sound advice (e.g., the mother points out that, like the prairie grass, ""Sometimes you must bend and sometimes you must stand against the wind""). A few strained analogies may be lost on young readers, but they'll likely be carried along by the soothing tone of the narrative. An openly sentimental tribute to both America's varied landscapes and to the parent-child bond. Ages 4-8. (June)