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Time of Wonder (Picture Puffins) Paperback – June 15, 1989
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McCloskey's book was first published in 1957, and the illustrations show this--no life vests in a lot of the boating pictures, children swimming without being watched over by a lifeguard or adult, and so on. Still, that's not a bad thing--it shows the protective, exclusionary nature of childhood and the risks children take without even being fully aware that they ARE taking risks.
The illustrations are lovely. These paintings depict Maine as being beautiful without neglecting to show the dangerous side of coastal life as well (witness the storm scenes towards the end of the book). There is a caressing, rhythmic feel to the text which subtly imitates the tidal pull of the ocean. What a perfect gift for anyone who vacations in Maine--or wants to.
The story, such as it is, follows a family in their summer home on an island in the ocean. Mostly following the children, the story reflects on the wonders of nature itself. The kids walk out into the mist on warm summery mornings. They leap from high ocean rocks, and sun themselves as the rocks grow warm. They sail a boat at night (they've fairly trusting parents, I'd wager) to spy on deep water crabs. Eventually, a hurricane comes to batter the family in their sturdy little home. In the end, the family must return to their real house/life/school and wait to return to the island another year. As they leave, the narrator opines that such moments as these make living a real time of wonder. A time for pondering things like, "I wonder where hummingbirds go in a hurricane".
Working in a medium unlike his usual pencils and inks, McCloskey seemed to draw the images in this book from a very private source. Though you may never have been in a summer home such as this or experienced moments like the ones the children go through, you feel the nostalgia embedded in this story. I may not have ever summered in places where I could make forts out of huge sea stones, but after reading this book I know what it would be like. People may say books such as this don't move quickly enough for kids today. Don't believe it. Kids are kids and good books are good books. The child that appreciates Elmo's World is still going to feel a sense of (for lack of a better word) wonder when they stare at the picture of the hurricane blowing the house's inhabitants in all directions. Kids interested in technical ship jargon and the process of buying supplies before a big storm will be fascinated by this tale as well. Some stories do not age. Others, age in such a way that they become deep and full-bodied like a good fine wine. "A Time of Wonder" falls into the latter category. Take a moment to enjoy it fully.
Two unnamed girls are overlooking Penobscot Bay, watching the rain form in the distance . . . until they themselves are drenched!
Next, a full day evolves from the typical summer fog with sidelights about porpoises, lobstering, gulls, cormorants, the forest and its trees and fiddle-head ferns. Finally, the fog burns off and the scene shifts to bees, hummingbirds, other birds singing, sail boats, fishing boats, seals, the beach, rocks and children playing. Then, as dusk settles in, an owl, a heron, eider ducks, fishhawks, a crab, a rowboat, a flashlight and the stars frame the experience. At each moment, nature holds great adventures and mysteries for the girls to explore and exult in.
A seaplane symbolizes the coming and going from the area. The bulk of the people and animals are summer visitors.
Suddenly, everyone realizes a big storm is coming.
"We're going to have some weather.
She's gonna blow.
With the next shift of the tide."
There are boats to get ready. Windows need to be secured. People have to go inside. Once there, the rain and wind can still blow their way in.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A little old for my grandsons right now, but building a library for when they are older is great!Published 2 months ago by Debra M.
I can't see this really keeping the attention of a child for very long. While this book did win a Caldecott Medal, this is one of those cases where the entire justification was the... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Dione Basseri
My granddaughter , Savannah already had this book in paperback but wanted hard back. She loves it.Published 4 months ago by Evelyn
I'm a 38 yo, book-addicted, homeschooling Mom and this is among my favorite picture books. I'm a west coast girl and the Pacific Ocean will always hold my heart but this book makes... Read morePublished 6 months ago by N. Gallagher
If you have ever spent part of a summer on the coast of Maine you will thrill at this story of so many possibilities and the "wonder" of them.Published 13 months ago by Eyelid
The full color illustrations are wonderful. The text is a bit more dreamy than other McCloskey books. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Rolo