Thursday, November 17, 2011

Acorns and Stew, Too

Written & illustrated by Ruth Orbach
$15.99, ages 4-8, 32 pages

A gumptious little girl uses nails and needles, acorns and stew to safely keep a flock of friends with her through the winter in this adorable picture book.

Illustrated in vintage style, with ink drawings punctuated with bright cheery color, the story plays out an imaginative plan that readers will feel a part of too.

Lenore looks every bit the free spirit with her tousled straight hair and cherry-red jumper over a fuschia shirt, and she knows what she needs:

To keep everything she loves just as it is.

Her house, its yellow door, her street with birds and trees, her cozy room, her everyday breakfast of pancakes, butter and jam, and her cat Sam.

But mostly, she wants the ducks in the lake nearby to stay where they are. Everyday she slings a bag of bread crumbs over her shoulder to share with them.

Sometimes she even brings them fish and porridge, and though none of the ducks know quite what to make of that, they love their girl.

But with winter coming, Lenore and the ducks are worried; soon they'll have to part.

Tears pour out of their eyes in a stream of dashes as they sit at a lakeside bench. Their bodies slump with sadness.

Try as they might, they can't keep winter from coming. The ducks try to stick leaves back on trees and before long they're shivering in an icy rain.

But wait, don't go, Lenore urges them, and she races home with a magical plan to keep them dry and warm and fed so they don't have to fly south.

In her bedroom, she saws and hammers wood to create little houses in bright pink, yellow and orange.

Then she brings a pot of stew to the lake, and digs a hole and fills it with acorns.

Next, she gathers old blankets, sweaters and rugs, and snips and sews them into overcoats with holes for wings.

And when the ducks wake on the first day of winter, they find she's set a table of fish and rolls, porridge, acorns and stew.

Now they really can stay.

In this happy little gem, Lenore gets to do what any little child would love to. Dote over a waddling flock of ducks as if they were her own young.

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