One Summer Up North – John Owens


 One Summer Up North – John Owens, University of Minnesota Press, 9781517909505, 2020 

Format: ARC PDF Review Copy (Hardcover available September, 2020)

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Genre: Picture Book

 What did you like about the book? I had an immediate reaction after “reading” this wordless book — I have now added another place to my vacation wish list! This book features a series of illustrations that shows a family’s exploration of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) which is located within the Superior National Forest of Minnesota. The story features a mother, father, and young child canoeing, hiking, fishing, camping, and simply enjoying this pristine area. This was the childhood experience of the author, John Owens, and his fond memories are clearly seen in the pages of this book.

The story begins with a family driving through the dense forest with their bright red canoe strapped on the top of their car (the bright red against the dark green backdrop of trees creates a memorable image). They carry their canoe to the entrance of the BWCAW, set off onto the lake, and their adventure begins. They navigate their canoe through a maze of lily pads, seeing turtles resting on logs and the reflections of white clouds in the clear blue water. They pass by a fox and her kits peering out from behind a log and see a group of loons coast by on the water. They pick fresh blueberries on a hillside and catch fish in a stream. A tent provides shelter from rain showers so they can enjoy a warm meal and sleep in fluffy sleeping bags during the night. They also just spend time enjoying the surroundings — gazing at a waterfall or the mist resting just above the surface of the lake.

It is appropriate that this is a wordless book – silent and picturesque much like the area the book is portraying. The illustrations encourage the reader to linger on each page a little and completely soak in what is being offered–creating a new story each time the book is opened.

Anything you did not like about the book. Nothing

To whom would you recommend this book? This book is appropriate for children over the age of three. A younger child would enjoy a caregiver creating the story for them, but an older child might enjoy putting their own spin on the story. I would definitely recommend this book for a child who enjoys being outside and exploring nature.

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries, preschools, daycare centers, anyone who works with children ages three and older.

Where would you shelve it? Picture Books, or wordless books if you have that section.

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes, I think there is a lot of value in a great wordless book.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Kristin Guay, former youth services librarian.

Date of review: May 6, 2020

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