cover image ANNA'S TABLE


Eve Bunting, , illus. by Taia Morley. . NorthWord, $15.95 (28pp) ISBN 978-1-55971-841-7

On a table against the wall in her room, narrator Anna displays "wonders/ of the earth/ and sky and sea"—each treasured as both a marvel of nature and a memento of time spent with people she loves. A spiral shell that "held a mollusk once" reminds her of how her father waded into the ocean to retrieve it, only to get blindsided by a wave. "He disappeared./ We cheered/ when he appeared again/ holding the shell/ above his head." Other items teach Anna about the fragility and interconnectedness of life: a mouse's bones found in an owl pellet, a lizard flattened by a car, butterflies killed by a sudden freeze. Bunting's (Smoky Night) narrative is bumpy, sometimes rhyming, other times not. She occasionally veers into the maudlin, but also finds eloquence in ostensibly reportorial prose: "I have two dried and dusty nests/ that fell/ one windy night./ I have a shark's tooth/ and a geode,/ cracked across/ so I can see/ the crystal crumbs inside." Debut artist Morley juxtaposes impressionistic close-up portraits of items from the table with realistic, full-page (or larger) backdrops, framed in white, that transport readers to the time of the objects' discovery. The watercolor-and-ink paintings convey a beguiling spontaneity and vivacity, as if they were pages from an artist's sketchbook. With a publication that coincides with nature's annual renewal, this book should provide ample inspiration for readers to venture into the great outdoors and find their own treasures. Ages 5-8. (Apr.)