Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyPW's starred review praised the "lean, lyrical text" and "shimmering, luminous paintings" in this "extraordinary picture book that clarifies but does not oversimplify the difficult concept of historical time and evolution." Ages 4-7. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Children's LiteratureMother and child ponder the past in discussing who might have traveled down an old, old road. The story looks backwards from the pioneer settlers all the way to prehistoric man and animals. The road is just a trace through the woods, but folks have been traveling it thousands of years. Each page of this storybook reveals who and what preceded a young boy and his mother on the road they are walking. This dramatic and personal book fosters a rich understanding of our world. 1996 (orig.
School Library Journal - School Library JournalPreS-Gr 3-- Lyon tackles the difficult subject of historical continuity and evolution. The spare and elegant text creates a poetic yet childlike mood as a young boy poses a series of questions, beginning with the one in the title, concerning a road he and his mother are exploring. Her explanations carry them in reverse chronology past the time of her great-grandparents, westward settlers, Indians and buffalo, to mammoths and the period when the area was under water. The book comes to a somewhat vague conclusion in response to the boy wondering what came before: `` . . . questions came before sea and ice, before mastadon and grizzly bear/ before Indian and pioneer, before soldiers and newlyweds/ the mystery of the making place--that came before this road.'' Children may have a hard time with the ending, although they will likely find the rest intriguing. Nevertheless, this is a book that will be most successful in the hands of an adult who can introduce the concepts and answer the inevitable additional questions. Catalanotto's double-page watercolor paintings, which make extensive use of light and shadow for dramatic effect, are dreamy, romanticized representations of each scenario; if laid end to end, they would create a mural that would help young readers understand the continuum. --Ellen Fader, Westport Public Library, CT
Stephanie ZvirinStarting even before the title page, Lyon's tranquil story takes children on a journey through time. On a walk in the woods, an apple-cheeked child queries his mother about who trod the way before. Her answer guides her son back through history--past great-grandpa who came looking for a place to farm, the Shawnee in search of deer, and mastodons and mammoths fleeing icy winds, to the swirling "mystery of the making place," which represents the beginning of all. The majestic leap from concrete to abstract may be difficult for children to grasp, but the narrative is brief and plainly spoken, and it is filled with an unmistakable sense of joyful respect. So are Catalanotto's shimmering double-page watercolors, each one blending into the one before and after to show the sweep of time. The mother's broadly smiling face, radiant with sunlight streaming through the trees behind her and her son, is a beautiful finale.
- Scholastic, Inc.
- Publication date:
- Age Range:
- 4 - 7 Years
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