Sugar Bush Spring

Sugarbush Spring

illustrated by Jim Daly
published by HarperCollins, January 2000
ISBN 0688149073
Ages 4-8, 32 pages

Book Description

From Los Angeles Times, Orange County, March 19, 2000:
and Publishers Weekly, January 3, 2000:

This evocative tale illuminates life on a northern farm in early spring, when "the snow's too wet for angel making" and the sap's on the rise. The girl narrator rides with her grandfather on a horsedrawn sleigh filled with pails to hang on the taps they will soon place in the sugar maples. As the two search for prospects, Grandpa explains how to pick them: One tree is too old to tap ("She's given and given till she's nearly given out") and another is too young ("She needs all the sugar she makes this year. She'll be ready when she fills up your arms.") Marsha Wilson Chall (Up North at the Cabin) maintains this folksy yet informative tone throughout her account, marrying concrete information, such as the 219-degree boiling point of the sap, with more atmospheric descriptions of the sugarhouse itself. Rendered in oil on board, Jim Daly's (Mother, I Love You) nearly photographic paintings endow the picturesque interior and outdoor settings with a feeling of timelessness. The artist's devotion to detail—the gleam of light on freshly washed glass jars that will be filled with syrup and the distinct grain of the wood on the sugarhouse walls—contributes to the tactile quality of the volume. (Ages 6 and up)

From Kirkus Reviews:

Chall (Up North at the Cabin, 1992, etc.) is extravagant with the atmospherics surrounding a sugaring session, but short on explanations for this old-fashioned version of the late-winter ritual.

A young girl and her grandfather go out into the sugarbush to tap the maples. He gives her a few pointers on which to tap and which to let be, then offers her a taste of the first run. The next morning the flow is on and things are cracking in the sugarhouse. Along with Daly's lovely realistic paintings, this tale is as warm as toast, as sweet as the steam that pours from the sugar house vents—plus a good overview of the sugaring operation. Children will have questions—what is first run and what is fancy grade, how can the girl drink the sap directly from the tree, what is behind the name Jack-wax, and how does a drop of cream placate a rolling pan of napalm-like syrup?—so adults sharing this book may want to come prepared with a companion title, such as Kathryn Lasky/s Sugaring Time (1983). (Picture book, 6-8)