Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Once again the Bernhards (Reindeer) prove that there is nothing nerdy about science. With a bright, gouache-and-colored-pencil folk art style, the Bernhards winsomely trace the path of a fallen willow branch. The branch is snatched up by a dog, who takes it to a boy, who throws it into a stream, where it begins a long metamorphosis into a piece of driftwood in a child's mobile. The wondrous, convoluted journey of the branch teaches much about the natural world, yet the tale feels more like an adventure story than a science lesson. The conclusion brings satisfying closure while perhaps inspiring further inquiry into the origins of everyday things: "The boy's mother hangs the new mobile over his bed. `I wonder where this driftwood came from?' she asks." Instructions for making a similar mobile out of seashells, wood, pinecones and such are also provided. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Meredith Kiger
The varied travels of a broken willow branch are followed as it drifts through its life touching others along the way. Through the use of dreamy text and pastel batik-like illustrations, the authors tell its story from broken branch to a young boy's mobile. Directions on how to make your own mobile are included.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-A pleasantly bucolic journey with a little something extra. When a boy flings a willow branch into the air for his dog to fetch, it lands in a stream and begins its trip downriver to the sea. On its way, the branch is seized by a beaver, snatched up by an osprey, caught in a fisherman's net, and discarded. Washed up at last on a beach, it is found by another dog that brings it to another boy. That boy uses it to make a mobile hung with a beachcomber's treasures. It hangs in his bedroom window where it "...floats on the soft nighttime air, always home...and always on its way." The story, though unexciting, is simply and gracefully told. While there are some mildly dramatic scenes, the book as a whole is placidly idyllic in both text and art. Illustrations executed in gouache and colored pencil are stylized with a strong sense of design. The palette of blues, lavenders, and mauves appropriately conveys an aqueous serenity. Small, framed illustrations of details in the story are inset on the double-page spreads for added visual interest. The pictures will work especially well for group sharing. The last page gives instructions on how to make a mobile out of a driftwood branch. A soothing addition to use in a story time built around the theme of either trees or rivers and oceans.-Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Greenwich, CT
This is a comforting book, not only because of the soothing colors Bernhard uses in the paintings but also because the story suggests that there is a special place and purpose for all things. Double-spread illustrations, some with inset close-ups, follow the route of a broken willow branch as it wends its way from stream to river to sandy beach, finally ending up in the hands of a creative child, who fashions it into a mobile to catch the nighttime breeze. The graphic style of the art, with shapes clearly outlined in pastel hues, effectively complements the text, which, in quiet yet concrete fashion, relays the branch's progress through a natural world, both majestic and intimate. Instructions for making a mobile, directed to children but more likely of use to parents and teachers, round out a handsome, pleasing presentation.
The eventful journey of a willow branch that is snapped from a tree in a storm. A dog finds it and takes it to his master, who throws it into a stream; it becomes part of a beaver's dam and later an osprey's nest before it washes up on land as a piece of driftwood, destined for use in a boy's mobile of found objects. The Bernhards (Reindeer, 1994, etc.) conclude with detailed instructions on how to make the mobile.
A provocative philosophical point delivered poetically at the endthat the branch is "always home . . . and always on its way"highlights the monotony of the pages of description that precede it; the many incidents that alter the branch's path are laid out so matter-of-factly that they negate the lyricism of the conceit. Stylized gouache and colored pencil illustrations rely heavily on pinks and purples; the shapes are soft and flowing, with lighter lines defining the flow of water, air currents, fish scales, animal fur, and more. The overall effect is serene but cool, distancing even to those who appreciate the idea behind the book.