Publishers Weekly Reviews

On a backpacking trip, a girl and her parents uncover a bit of the past when they chance upon some daffodils--``cups lifted to trumpet / the good news / of spring.'' Nearby they find a chimney buried in honeysuckle, a stone foundation, a glass marble, the arm of a china doll. The girl imagines a black family living there in the past, what they ate, how they talked, the songs they sang. With striking craft, Dragonwagon limns a forgotten family's day-to-day existence. Pinkney's characteristically stunning, limpid watercolors are lush in shades of greens and browns, with touches of vibrant yellow in the flowers. His evocative images present a joyous mealtime, a child carefully ribboning her hair and hardworking Uncle Ferd, ``wiping the sweat from his forehead.'' A nice touch in the book's attractive design is the fact that paintings of the present are full page, while those set in the past are ``distanced'' by their frames. This lovely work closes as the girl reluctantly leaves her imaginings to rejoin her parents in the present. Ages 5-8. (Aug.) Copyright 1990 Cahners Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews

y's richly hued watercolors, strong with a sense of place and personality, will help draw young readers into this dreamlike reminiscence of a large, lively family whose existence echoes only faintly in the present. Deep within a lush southern woodland is the site of an old homestead, visited only by deer, squirrels, and raccoons. One spring day, a child discovers this ``home place.'' Spurred by her curiosity about the past, she digs in the ruined foundation and discovers a marble, a horseshoe, and the arm of a china doll. These objects lead her to envision the family whose home once stood there. Children love a mystery and this is a picture book that will invite them to think about the life cycle and the riddles of the past. Primary graders may need the help of an adult in raising and exploring these questions. Dragonwagon's short, rhythmic lines, laid out like poetry, have a sometimes mystical, sometimes conversational quality. Each full-page illustration lies opposite a brief block of text printed on a soft bone-colored background. One error must be mentioned, with regret. The flowers identified as honeysuckle in the text appear as morning glories in the illustration. The book has a simple dignity that is in complete harmony with the tone set by the author and the illustrator. A wonderfully evocative work. --Carey Ayres, Port Washington Public Library, NY Copyright 1991 Cahners Business Information.