cover image The Gift

The Gift

Kristine L. Franklin, Chronicle Books. Chronicle Books, $14.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-0447-9

Right from the cover image, fans of Mama, Do You Love Me? will recognize Lavallee's enchanting watercolors of the frozen North. Franklin's (The Old, Old Man and the Very Little Boy) resonant tale of an unusual fishing expedition opens with a lyrical description of the setting: ""In a place by the sea, where the winters are wet and the summers are cool and tall trees stand guard like soldiers along the shoreline..."" Young Jimmy Joe is thrilled when wise Fish Woman offers to take him out in her boat. When the boy announces that he plans to catch a big salmon, the mysterious woman remarks that she knows about ""something even better than salmon."" Jimmy Joe catches a giant Chinook, but when a pod of playful whales approaches their boat, he suddenly understands Fish Woman's words, ""When the great Wolves of the Sea choose to show themselves, it is a gift."" Lavallee's stylized paintings feature sparks of warm red and gold against a cool palette of soft blues, grays and greens. Like the narrative, the art works on several levels, depicting the austere beauty of the locale while conveying the mystical quality of the child's encounter with the whales. An affecting reflection on the meaning of giving. Ages 3-8. (Oct.)