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Lawson, Julie
Illustrated by Sheena Lott Red Deer (Alta.), Red Deer College Press, 1992. unpaged, laminated boards, $14.95, ISBN 0-88995-082-2. (Northern Lights Books for Children). Distributed by Raincoast Books. CIP

Junior Kindergarten to Grade 4/Ages 4 to 9

Reviewed by Marion Scott

Volume 20 Number 5
1992 October

This beautifully produced picture-book is both a "fish story" and a narrative of a special family outing. The story-line is simple. Amy, brother Michael and their parents set out before dawn for a morning of fishing in the British Columbia straits. Amy hooks a salmon, but loses both fish and rod when Michael breaks her concentration to point out a passing school of whales. Amy fights her disappointment, first to appreciate the whale sighting and later when Michael hooks a fish. Strangely enough, his catch is the very salmon Amy lost, still tangled in her rod. The morning ends happily with Amy keeping the lure to remind her of this special time.

The author, an elementary teacher, drew both on her own memories and on fishing stories collected from children. The narrative is told in the first person, by Amy. It is low key and descriptive but nicely shaped, and Lawson has chosen her words with care to evoke the sights and sensations of the morning.

Superb illustrations do the rest, truly bringing the text to life. Lott has done a wonderful job of capturing the magical quality of light and water. Executed in water-colours, her paintings move from the mauve-grey shadows of dawn to the bright blues and white-yellow highlights of late morning. Her figure drawing is also expressive she conveys both Amy's excitement and disappointment in her body posture.

This title joins a current crop of picture-books, Canadian and non-Canadian, that celebrate nature and outdoor life. It more than holds its own in this company and could prove to be one of the better Canadian picture-books of the 1992 publishing season. This is an impressive debut for both author and illustrator.

I would recommend this book for public school library collections.

Marion Scott is a children's librarian at Pape/ Danforth Branch, Toronto Public Library in Toronto, Ontario

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