The Deer Watch

The Deer Watch

5.0 1
by Pat Lowery Collins
Feel the anticipation — and share the moment of discovery — as a young boy and his dad set out to find one of nature’s unforgettable wonders.

A father promises his young son that this summer they will see a deer. They set out over the dunes, through the marsh, and into the woods, searching for a white-flag tail or a set of leaping legs. But


Feel the anticipation — and share the moment of discovery — as a young boy and his dad set out to find one of nature’s unforgettable wonders.

A father promises his young son that this summer they will see a deer. They set out over the dunes, through the marsh, and into the woods, searching for a white-flag tail or a set of leaping legs. But deer are hard to find, especially if your feet want to dance and your nose tickles until you sneeze. Squirrels scurry up trees, rabbits leap out of sight, and a pheasant flushes into the sky, but the deer remain hidden until the boy is almost ready to give up and head home. A captivating, lyrical narrative and oil-on-linen landscape illustrations create a sense of quiet suspense as a young boy experiences a sight he will hold in his memory forever.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Writing in evocative prose poetry, Collins (Come Out, Come Out!) tells the story of a boy and his father who arise with the sun one morning to try to glimpse the local deer. They are staying with the boy’s mother at a summer house on the shore “that smelled like old trees/ and where/ the seagulls on the roof/ believed they owned the place.” As they walk, they discover an egret (a “tall white shaggy bird,/ its neck a question mark”) and, less auspiciously, workmen disrupting the morning quiet with their bulldozers. A gentle sense of suspense slowly builds, leading to the magical instant when a doe and two fawns materialize. Slonim (I Loathe You), painting thickly in oils, does a lovely job of visualizing the wet stillness of a silent morning near the shore, as well as the intimacy between the terse father and his enthusiastic son. A nostalgic sensibility runs throughout Collins’s writing, the story unfolding from the poetic adult perspective of one sharing a treasured memory. Ages 3–6. Author’s agent: Lauren Abramo, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
This quiet picture book records a child’s experience of nature with precision, beauty, and understated power.
—Booklist (starred review)

David Slocum has illustrated this quiet father-and-son nature ramble with paintings that are rich yet subtle; he works here with a subdued palette of greens and grays and mustardy yellows, layering thickly with fat brushstrokes. The effect is as enchanting as the sudden glimpse of a doe and two fauns.
—The Wall Street Journal

There's much to love here: Lowery Collins' poetic cadence and careful language; Slonim's impressionistic paintings of the hikers and all they see as they search for deer.
—The Sunday Plain Dealer

Children's Literature - Denise Hartzler
The Deer Watch by Pat Lowery Collins is a quiet picture book with soft pastel colors. A boy and his father take a daylong hike through many settings to see a doe or a buck. The boy encounters many different species while listening and learning from his father's own stories. Collins uses poetic language to describe the world around his characters. Children will delight in seeing how a bird's neck can make a question mark and will wait in anticipation for the young boy to see the deer. David Slonim's talent for illustration shines in this book. Each page sets the scenery for the journey and makes you want to touch the book to feel the brush strokes seen in the paint. His illustrations give this story texture and a softness that compliments the quiet story. Parents and teachers can take the opportunity to further expand on subjects like conservation lands and how construction and all its equipment affect the environment around them. Children by nature want to explore their world and discover all its secrets. This is a book that reflects those special moments in life; moments of discovery, wonder, success and reflection. Reviewer: Denise Hartzler
School Library Journal
Gr 1–4—After the family returns to its summer home, a boy and his dad go on a much-anticipated outing to find a deer. They climb the dunes and tramp through the marsh and onto conservation land. Throughout their quest, they see birds and other animals, but no deer. The child's sneeze and his feet that dance in eagerness might have frightened them away. Certainly the men with their bulldozers, hammers, and drills have scared them off. Indeed, wildlife was far more abundant here, Dad laments, before humans encroached on the habitat. Still, for those who take the time to look and listen quietly, seemingly hidden creatures can make an appearance. And sure enough, after a warm rain, a doe and her two fawns step out of the shadows and then disappear, a gift for patient waiting. The large oil paintings on linen are richly textured and depict the forest landscape in quiet pastel hues. The poetic text is lovely, though it may stretch credulity to believe the young narrator would really describe their house as smelling like "old trees," or a boat as having a "moth-wing sail." Pair this story with Nicola Davies's Outside Your Window (Candlewick, 2012) to spark children's interest in the natural world and generate ideas for its preservation.—Marianne Saccardi, formerly at Norwalk Community College, CT
Kirkus Reviews
A slow start to the story and the odd line breaks won't keep readers from being mesmerized. It's another summer at the beach house, and a boy's father has promised that he will at last see a deer. The two head out early, searching the dunes and the marsh grass, finding traces of wildlife but no deer. A working bulldozer keeps deer away from the road, but the conservation land holds promise. The narrator knows he must keep still and quiet, but it is a mighty battle against his body, which has the wiggles. In the end, their patience is rewarded by a vision so awesome that the boy has trouble putting it into words--"the memory would never leave-- / … / our two worlds crossed / for just a magic while." In an odd mix of childlike voice and adult sensibility that nonetheless entrances, lyrical sentences capture the scenery in words: "…There / was a pond, a shiny mirror / full of trees all upside down / and water lilies right side up." Slonim's textured oil paintings, with visible brush strokes, evoke childhood, nature and the tender relationship between a father and son, adding to the scenes described in the text instead of mirroring them. While each individual part may not be spectacular, the sum has a quiet majesty and beauty that begs to be shared one on one. (Picture book. 3-7)

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
9.30(w) x 10.70(h) x 0.50(d)
AD950L (what's this?)
Age Range:
3 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Pat Lowery Collins is the author of many books for children and young adults, including the novels Hidden Voices: The Orphan Musicians of Venice and Daughter of Winter. About The Deer Watch, she says, "The mystical feelings I experienced when sighting two fawns in the early morning were the inspiration for this tale." She lives in Massachusetts.

David Slonim is a fine artist and writer and illustrator for children. He is the illustrator of Moishe’s Miracle by Laura Krauss Melmed and the author-illustrator of He Came with the Couch and Oh, Ducky! David Slonim lives in Indiana.

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The Deer Watch 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Its_Time_Mamaw More than 1 year ago
Father and son take a walk with the intent to see a deer.  They walk through the marshes and even come upon some construction workers that claim they scared off some deer.  As they continue their walk they come upon many of nature's creatures, rabbits, squirrels and they were surprised to have flushed out a pheasant.  Then it began to thunder and a short rain shower soaked them then was quickly over.  Finally they when they were about to turn around and head back home father and son spot her.  In the peace after the rain the deer appears.  The day was a success and complete! What a wonderful way to spend the day!  The author writes an endearing story of time spent between father and son sharing a memory that will last a lifetime.  The illustrations are beautiful, they are like walking through an art gallery within the pages of this book.   I am sure there are many adults that remember a special time spent with their own parent or maybe this will inspire them to spend a special outing with their own child or grandchild and make a special memory that will last forever. I highly recommend this book. Disclosure:  I received a free copy of this book from Candlewick Press for review.  I was in no way compensated for this review.  This review is my honest opinion.