CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 5. . . .October 7, 2016
In the Red Canoe.
Leslie A. Davidson.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2016.
32 pp., hc., pdf & epub., $19.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0973-4 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0974-1 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-0975-8 (epub).
Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 3-7.
Review by Kay Weisman.
Reviewed from f&g’s.
I like to go in the red canoe,
I sit low in the bow.
I can paddle by myself
my Grandpa taught me how.
We don’t say much—we mostly look.
He shows me everything.
The watery world goes sliding by.
Our paddles dip and swing.
A young girl describes her joy in paddling a red canoe with her grandfather. Throughout their journey, the pair notes beavers building a lodge, schools of fish fry, baby ducks, dragonflies resting on green lily pads, frogs on a muddy beach, an osprey capturing fish, swallows at sunset, and stars in a moonlit sky.
Bifano’s gouache artwork features vivid colours (predominantly blues and greens) and a realistic style that pays homage to the natural beauty of this landscape. Although most spreads depict the two paddling their canoe, illustrations of running along a muddy beach, cooking over a lakeside campfire, and the girl being carried inside their lakeshore cabin add variety to the scenes. In addition, diverse composition styles (close ups, reflections, cutaway views, and aerial perspectives) add to the book’s appeal.
While the singsong rhythm of the text occasionally feels overdone, the wilderness setting, floral and faunal details, and the loving relationship between these characters make this a worthy addition to most Canadian collections. Pair with Deborah Hodge’s West Coast Wild: A Nature Alphabet for another take on the picturesque natural world of the Pacific Northwest.
Kay Weisman works as a youth services librarian at West Vancouver Memorial Library and chairs the Children’s Literature Roundtables of Canada’s Information Book Award.
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