Gathering: A Northwoods Counting Book

Overview

In the northwoods, most of the year is spent preparing for the longest and most demanding season: winter. Families of people and animals alike begin their gathering for the cold months as early as the start of spring. Much needs to be done - planting and gardening, fishing and berry picking, chopping and piling wood, harvesting wild rice, and searching for warm boots and socks. Like the firewood and jarred rhubarb, summer memories are stored so that stargazing and fireflies are remembered on the coldest of winter...

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Overview

In the northwoods, most of the year is spent preparing for the longest and most demanding season: winter. Families of people and animals alike begin their gathering for the cold months as early as the start of spring. Much needs to be done - planting and gardening, fishing and berry picking, chopping and piling wood, harvesting wild rice, and searching for warm boots and socks. Like the firewood and jarred rhubarb, summer memories are stored so that stargazing and fireflies are remembered on the coldest of winter days. In this companion to her memorable debut, Antler, Bear, Canoe: A Northwoods Alphabet Year, Betsy Bowen delights readers with a warm regard for the woods and its inhabitants. Gathering, illustrated anew in vibrantly colored woodcuts, is a celebration of the changing seasons laced with a special reverence for the magic and mystery of winter and the first big snow of the year.

A counting book featuring the seasons of the year and the natural history of the Minnesota woods.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A companion to Bowen's alphabet book, Antler, Bear, Canoe (1991), this counting book is a celebration of living in the north woods of Minnesota through the seasons of the year. Not really a concept book—the things to be counted from 0 to 12 on each double-page spread are not always consistently organized or easy to identify—this is more a lyrical picture book of an amazing place. The nature writing is precise and detailed, and children will pore over the bold, colored wood-block prints for the action and information. Winter is always there, even in the springtime scene on the first page: "We'll gather food and firewood and memories to be ready for the white snow and the cold dark nights when they come." Winter is there in the brief summer and in the harvesting of wild rice in the fall. The joy of 12 inches of snow is a glorious visual climax: 'Tomorrow we'll be able to ski! All day long.'" Booklist, ALA

"The sophisticated counting book conveys both the magnitude of a northern Minnesota winter and the joy of simple domestic rituals as it moves from zero to twelve and from May to December, describing things a family does during warmer months to prepare for frigid temperatures." Horn Book

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this nature-themed counting book, Bowen (Tracks in the Wild) shows how inhabitants of the Minnesota northwoods work through the spring, summer and fall to prepare for the typically harsh winter. Thoughts of freezing temperatures and snow begin as early as May, when gardeners plant tomatoes and beans for canning. Throughout the summer animals and people gather and store berries, and kids collect ``warm memories'' such as ``floating along in the canoes under shooting stars.'' Bowen's familiarity with her subject matter manifests itself in both her welcoming text and her intricate colored-woodblock prints. Attractively designed, each spread introduces a number from one to 12 followed by a first-person anecdotal paragraph of information (e.g., ``Two rhubarb pies. Each year the bright red rhubarb stalks, with their big curled leaves, come up by themselves'') and is graced by one full-size woodblock print as well as spot illustrations. A predominantly cool palette of blues, purples and greens conveys the seasonal chill. Bowen also provides insight into the idiosyncracies of the region and of her characters (neighbors contruct a labyrinth of extension cords so that their truck battery will start, for instance), companionably underscoring the demands of the climate and her respect for the land. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Dr. Beverly Kobrin
Counting books can be more than simply clusters of things for toddlers to tally. They can be aesthetic/intellectual experiences for readers of all ages. Use counting books to inspire reports, art projects, or lessons for cross-grade tutoring; display them as fine art; and most importantly, help youngsters discover that there is always something to learn from good nonfiction. Extra kudos are due to Betty Bowen for her excellent text and woodblock prints that let kids discover how hardy American North woods dwellers prepare for winter.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4 A companion book to Antler, Bear, Canoe: A Northwoods Alphabet Year (Joy Street, 1991), this volume easily stands on its own merits. Here, Bowen traces the preparations for a long, hard winter. Even in the springtime, when the book opens, thoughts turn to temperatures that will descend to zero in a few months. The author describes planting a garden, harvesting blueberries and wild rice, cutting wood, and catching fish. The requisite number of objects appears at the bottom of most text blocks as part of a complex but well-designed layout for each double-page spread. However, because some of the items are abstract, such as "three summer memories," this book will not serve as a counting lesson for preschoolers. Bowen's outstanding colored woodblock prints effectively render the northern landscape. The flattened perspective and stopped action of the figures endow their simple tasks with a timeless quality. Humans appear small against the hills and lakes, lending an air of urgency to their work and special joy to a feast once preparations for winter are complete. An essential purchase for all libraries where winter stretches on forever, and a highly recommended choice for others. Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-Gathering continues Bowen's appealing woodcut art and narrative of life in the northwoods started with Antler, Bear, Canoe (1991) and Tracks in the Wild (1993, both Little). Unfortunately, it is unsuccessfully grafted onto the concept of a counting book. Double-page spreads feature the numbers from 0 to 12. At the bottom right-hand border of each spread is the name of a month starting with May and running through December. The absence of January through April is not explained. The book starts off with zero, as in zero degrees. The accompanying text talks about the need to begin preparing for winter even though it is spring, and the illustration shows a man preparing his garden while a boy flies a kite. The choices made of how to illustrate the numbers is sure to baffle most young children. What is a cord of wood? The objects to count are eight logs. Are eight logs a cord? The picture shows a truck and a man unloading many more than eight onto a stack. Other spreads are equally problematic. Treating this as a picture book rather than a counting book, it is much more enjoyable, for Bowen emphasizes and explains the long preparations necessary to enjoy winter in the northwoods: planting a garden, making cakes and jams, gathering berries and wild rice, putting in a supply of firewood, and gathering friends to enjoy the bounty. Appreciate the text and lovely illustrations-forget the counting-book aspect.-Judith Gloyer, Milwaukee Public Library
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395981344
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/28/1999
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Betsy Bowen is the author-illustrator of several books for children. Reviewers have described her distinctive woodcuts as bold, rich and handsome. The mother of three sons, she has lived with her family on the rugged north shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota for more than thirty years.

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