cover image The Lonely Pine

The Lonely Pine

Aaron Frisch, illus. by Etienne Delessert. Creative Editions, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-56846-214-1

Frisch (A Night on the Range) writes a free-verse tale about a year in the life of a solitary, stunted pine tree far above the Arctic tree line: “[T]he pine knew nothing of other trees./ It thought itself adequate.” Delessert (Spartacis the Spider) draws luminous portraits of the animals the pine encounters opposite pages with Frisch’s verses and the image of a yellowed calendar. In April, a fox takes shelter under the pine’s boughs. In June, the weather warms, and musk oxen arrive: “A forest of fur encircled the pine,/ its branches of horn swirling the steam.” In September, the cold returns; in December, a musher approaches. “The man leaned on an ax and considered the pine./ Then he took up his things./ The barking slid south.” It’s the only human intrusion. Most of the book’s movement is found in Frisch’s somber observations and the wealth of information in Delessert’s work; the traces of ravens’ wings in the snow, the fox’s wary golden eyes, the moth settled on a single pine needle. In the hands of this pair, the Arctic feels as rich and mysterious as the jungle. Ages 9–up. (Nov.)