________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 26. . . .March 11, 2011


Catching Time.

Rachna Gilmore. Illustrated by Kirsti Anne Wakelin.
Calgary, AB: Red Deer Press/Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2010.
32 pp., hardcover, $ 19.95.
ISBN 978-1-55455-162-0.

Kindergarten-grade 2 / Ages 5-7.

Review by Janice Foster.

*** /4



Mom and Dad hardly ever find time.
I guess it's up to me.
I pick up my butterfly net and a big, big jar.
I watch and wait.


Catching Time begins on a Saturday morning with Mom busy with vacuuming, sewing and catching up on her computer work while Dad is busy with washing dishes, polishing the car and grocery shopping. When Sara asks them to go to the park, they reply, "If we find time" and "Maybe we'll catch some time." Since her parents are too busy to find time to take her to the park, Sara takes matters into her own hands. With a big jar and a butterfly net, she sets out to catch time itself. But not knowing where time is and what it looks like makes catching it a challenge. She tries capturing it as it goes "whooshing down the vacuum cleaner" and "gurgling and burbling down the drain." As supper time approaches, Sara is no closer to catching that elusive time. She must try a new strategy if there is any hope to get to the park before bedtime.

internal art     Award-winning author Rachna Gilmore provides readers, young and old, with a story that shows the frantic pace of today's lifestyle. This lifestyle is reflected in the multiple tasks parents find themselves immersed in and how this erodes the amount of time spent together as a family. Catching Time addresses this issue of busyness from both the perspective of the child and that of the parents. The bold, colourful illustrations by illustrator Kirsti Anne Wakelin capture the "scurry and worry, bustle and whirl" of Sara's parents and Sara's energy and emotions in her attempt to catch time so her parents can take her to the park. Wakelin's whimsical depiction of time, once it has been caught, is definitely thought-provoking. Gilmore's use of the rich language of sound, "whooshing, screeching, tickety-tack," and movement, "dancing, smearing, twisting," adds a poetic energy to the story telling, connecting the reader to Sara's lively and frustrating search.

      Catching Time shows the playfulness of the hunt for time, the importance of a family's spending time together and the elusiveness of that time with today's busyness. The story ends with a reflective message in the book's last three words, "In perfect time." The perspective of the reader will likely result in various reactions and interpretations to the story. With this in mind, Gilmore's latest picture book does more than provide an entertaining read-aloud. It provides the opportunity for parents and children to discuss work and chores and to reconnect with the importance of spending time together. And just as important, Catching Time provides a delightful sharing of whimsy, energy, sound, movement and colourful art that makes for a wonderful time spent together.


Janice Foster, a former teacher and teacher-librarian, lives in Winnipeg, MB.

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