The Range Eternal  – written by Louise Erdrich, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher

    The Range Eternal  – written by Louise Erdrich, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, University of Minnesota Press, 9781517910983, 2020; originally published 2002

Format:  Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review)  4

What did you like about the book:   The warmth you feel from the ethereal illustrations and heart filled story inspired by the author’s memories of her grandparents’ house on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota.   Their family stove, ‘The Range Eternal’, was regarded with much affection and much more than a big old stove.   This big blue enamel wood burning stove provides more than heat, it brings comfort, protection and is the heart of the home.  Many hearty soups were made by Mama there, a place where potatoes were cooked to warm cold hands on icy morning walks to school, a place to heat stones to warm cold toes at night during those windy winter months, and keeps the ice monster, Windigo, at bay.  Through the open glass window you can see the dancing flames glow as they light up the wall with pictures of the range of animals:  buffalo, wolf, bear, fox, cranes, herons, and eagles running from horizon to horizon. Their wood stove was a much loved family gathering place.  When electricity was brought to their home, a new stove arrived as well to replace ‘The Range Eternal’, one where you could turn a knob and heat would flow through the coiled burner.   Their old wood stove disappeared from their house but not their hearts.   As time goes on, the memories become more intense and longing for a center of true warmth leads to an antique store and a ‘Range Eternal’.

Original artwork paintings beautifully fill the page spreads and accompany the heartfelt story the author intended as indicated in the ‘Author’s Note’ in the back.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No

To whom would you recommend this book?   A great read aloud to build community and for family gatherings, sharing traditions and memories together.

Who should buy this book?  Preschools, day cares, elementary schools, home and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ?  Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? yes

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Julie Durmis, J.C. Solmonese Elementary School, Norton, MA

Date of review:  October 24, 2020

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