If You Want to See a Caribou

If You Want to See a Caribou

by Phyllis Root
     
 

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If you really want to see a woodland caribou, you might try going to a place forgotten by time. It should be a hushed place, with perhaps rocky green hills and blue water, home to loons and beaver, lichen and yellow buttercups.

With every step, this gentle journey brings us to a deeper and more unique connection with nature. Phyllis Root's mesmerizing text,

Overview

If you really want to see a woodland caribou, you might try going to a place forgotten by time. It should be a hushed place, with perhaps rocky green hills and blue water, home to loons and beaver, lichen and yellow buttercups.

With every step, this gentle journey brings us to a deeper and more unique connection with nature. Phyllis Root's mesmerizing text, together with Jim Meyer's outstanding woodblock prints, makes the very heart of the forest come alive and reveals that if you are patient and quiet, sometimes what you are seeking will, in the end, find you.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Taking readers on a simple journey into the north woods in search of the endangered caribou, Root's (Grandmother Winter) lyrical poem captures that magical and fragile moment when human beings respectfully intersect with nature. Nearly every line of the poem contains tactile descriptions: waves lapping the sailboat in Lake Superior are "rushing, rooosh, rooosh," "the ground [is] spongy with feather moss" and in the clearing "where caribou have rubbed the velvet off their antlers... the air has a faint, acrid odor." Root's second-person narrative describes just enough action to keep readers turning the pages, even as child and adult wait: "You sit,/ quiet as an old spruce is quiet,/ quiet as a red cupped mushroom,/ quiet as a caribou who scents danger on the wind." Throughout, the poet's images startle and evoke a reverence for the beauty of the natural world, inviting young readers to notice even smallest details: "Yellow buttercups nod, hello, hello," and a log "pointed like a pencil" signifies that a beaver has gnawed it down. The human figures in newcomer Meyer's elegantly colored woodblock prints are sometimes static, and his landscapes do not fully illustrate the splendors mentioned in the poem (e.g., no buttercups). Nonetheless, they possess a restrained grace of their own, and usher the audience into the hushed, expectant mood of the poem. Ages 4-8. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
This magical encounter with a caribou is poetically told in Phyllis Root's free verse invitation to come along to a small island in Lake Superior. Based on a caribou herd that moved over the rarely frozen lake to live as a group there ever since, the encounter comes about as an adult and a child come ashore from a houseboat sailboat to explore the island. As they move quietly and observe the many named native plant and tree species, they come to rest on a rock and observe two beavers and finally, the hoped for caribou, mother and calf. Jim Meyer's lovely woodcuts are detailed enough to hint at the ghostly Indian pipes poking up through the moss and delineate birch bark from balsam fir branches but evocatively blurred and gently tinted which contributes to the mystical feeling of being a lone human pair in this pristine spot. A beautiful illustration of a double vee of swimming beavers precedes the first sighting of the caribou, a nice highlighting of the apex of the story. In the appealing end, Root's child character softly says his/her name to the calf and now, "a caribou knows your name." An author's note mentions the rarity of woodland caribou and a little bit about the herd on this unnamed island. Put this out with other books that create wonder and amazement while exploring an ecosystem, like Jane Yolan's Owl Moon or April Pulley Sayre's If You Should Hear a Honey Guide. 2004, Houghton Mifflin, Ages 6 to 10.
—Susan Hepler, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 4-Set on a forest island in Lake Superior, this reflective story follows a child and parent as they explore the area, hoping to see a caribou. Written in free verse, the text describes how they find signs of beavers in fallen birch trees, enjoy the exhilarating scent of balsam, and, in the heart of the woods, discover "the moss-edged bones of a caribou long dead." While silently sitting near the shore, they observe a caribou cow and calf wading in the water. The child whispers her name to the calf before the animals return to the forest. As the explorers leave the island at sunset, the youngster is delighted that she has seen a caribou and that he now knows her name. The restrained tone and natural rhythms of the language add depth to the telling. Meyer's woodblock prints, inspired by landscapes of the Great Lakes, are ideally paired with the gentle narrative. The muted hues match the quiet mood of the text. The distinctive textures of tree bark, forest ferns, and rippling water are carefully portrayed and observant readers will enjoy examining each detail. An afterword provides information about woodland caribou. This thoughtful and unique work successfully portrays the wonder of discovery and of the natural world.-Shawn Brommer, South Central Library System, Madison, WI Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Root changes pace from her rousing Big Momma Makes the World (2003) with this subdued, reflective invitation to visit one of the islands in Lake Superior where the now-endangered woodland caribou can be spotted. Meyers captures her tone with woodcuts that resemble silkscreen prints in colors and textures, depicting two small human visitors pulling up to shore in a rubber raft, walking through patches of open forest and meadow, then sitting quietly near a beach until a caribou cow and calf drift into view. Despite a somewhat inscrutable closer (". . . you have seen a caribou. And a caribou knows your name"), this low-key communion with nature will draw in sensitive readers, and gets Meyer off to a promising start as an illustrator. (afterword) (Picture book. 6-8)
From the Publisher

"This thoughtful and unique work successfully portrays the wonder of discovery and of the natural world." School Library Journal

"Quiet poetry and beautiful color woodblock prints convey the excitement of wilderness encounters in this picture book set on a Lake Superior island." 15MinutesMagazine.com

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780547561912
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
04/22/2004
Sold by:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
32
File size:
6 MB
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author


Phyllis Root says this story was inspired by her childhood memories of Mother Holle, a character in German fairy tales. She lives in snowy Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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