Monday, January 24, 2011

The Secret River

The Secret River
by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon
Atheneum, 2011. Unpaged. Picture Book.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' The Secret River was originally published posthumously (and in a longer version) in 1955 and won a Newbery honor award in 1956. The Dillons' breathtakingly beautiful illustrations for this new edition should put them in immediate contention for this year's Caldecott award before we even catch our breath from the announcement of last year's winner. The Secret River is the story of a young girl named Calpurnia and her dog Buggy-horse. When hard times come to the forest, Calpurnia follows Mother Albirtha's advice and follows her nose to the secret river where she catches fish--enough and the spare!--for her family and their friends, even after she has fed an owl, a bear, and a panther on her trip back home. Hard times become "soft times" thanks to Calpurnia's trip into the forest but when she tries to go back she can't because the secret river only appears during hard times and then only once. Rawlings' and the Dillons' "new" picture book is as lovely a story as one is likely to find, this year or any other.

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