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I have loved this story since I was a child, and now decades later I give it as gifts for relatives and friends' children to learn to read. The two girls at the center of the story experience the joys of vacation on a island off the coast of Maine, apparently an annual family event for them. The watercolor paintings catch the beauty and subtlety of color of water, land, forest, and weather. I love the page where the girls are in a rowboat shining a flashlight into the water. The build to the big storm gives a strong push to the narrative, and the paintings capture it perfectly. A great book for curling up with a loved child.
We keep a lot of kids books in the house, and this is my favorite. In my opinion this is a children's literature masterpiece. The Nightwatch, Guernica, One Hundred Years of Solitude-- in that vein. Along so many dimensions it shows levels of storytelling, art, and craftsmanship that are so immaculate, I almost tear up trying to describe it any further.
It's a bit of a longer read-- for a child it is almost an epic-- which kind of requires an earlier bedtime, or a non-school night. Maybe that keeps it special for us.
For my kids, it might not be on their top 3 lists at any given time-- but those change every couple months anyhow. I think spending the time reading this to them, showing them the love of nature, and of a simpler world, and for the ones I read it to, far outweighs more fleeting pleasures (which of course are important as well). That's what it means to be a parent anyhow. So make it a part of your life.
Being a fan of Make Way for Ducklings, I was in search of other books by Robert McCloskey when I found this gem of a book. It is gentle, lyrical and so beautiful in it's prose and artwork. My children like to listen to it at bedtime and it lulls them to sleep each time. It is a book that celebrates nature and it's beauty. It's hard for me to describe but it touches me deeply, evokes memories of my childhood camping trips in the mountains.