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Monday, May 13, 2013

The Deer Watch, written by Pat Lowery Collins and illustrated by David Slonim. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2013. $18.00 ages 5 and up

"Next we looked
into the marsh grass,
where the deer come down
to drink or take a bath
before most people are awake.

We saw a red-winged blackbird
and one tall white shaggy bird,
its neck a question mark.

"Egret," said my dad."

In this beautiful poetic story, we meet a young boy and his father. Their plan for the day is a shared walk, and a chance to see the deer that inhabit the surrounding woods. They are spending their summer vacation near the water and are delighted to share their space with the birds and wildlife of the area. Their quiet walk provides chance meetings with an egret, workmen whose noisy bulldozers are doing a needed job, but no deer.

As we walk along with them, we anticipate a sighting and must learn patience. Then, in a moment of magic, a mother and her two young fawns come out of the mist, bringing awe and delight for the two partners in nature.

The lovely illustrations, rendered in thick oils, provide a perfect backdrop to this engaging and gentle story. The reader can almost feel the damp stillness of summer and smell the pungent odors of the early morning near the shore. The textures created by the broad brush strokes honors nature, the loving and tender feelings shared by the two, and add to the feeling of the poet's meaningful words.

The relationship between father and son as they travel well-worn paths and search quietly for deer is evident as the youngster tries with all his might to be still and quiet, and his father encourages him to be patient. Their reward is worth the hard work! While it is a fleeting encounter, the memory will last:

“the memory would never leave—
 ...our two worlds crossed
 for just a magic while.”

I love the tone and magical feeling of this book and will be sharing it whenever I get the chance in coming months.

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