K-Gr 3-``Where else can the soft sound of cows chewing make all the difference in the world?'' asks Eli's grandfather about the barn he loves. There are other places on the farm that each family member finds special: the valley, the meadows, the hilltop where the blueberries grow, and the river falling over rocks. As young Eli recounts them simply and warmly, these places become living keepsakes that form a homage to their way of life. The ties of family members to one another and of family to farm are captured in the sweet, pastoral illustrations realistically painted in Norman Rockwellian style. The language has MacLachlan's signature spareness filled with emotion and sensitivity. As in her Three Names (HarperCollins, 1991), the personal reflections are heartwarming and touching. While Eli waits in the barn with his grandfather, the arrival of a new baby reaffirms the continuity of generations as Sylvie's name is added to those carved on a barn rafter. The use of questions such as: ``Where else does an old turtle crossing the path make all the difference in the world?'' help make the story relevant for young readers. Who else but MacLachlan could carry this off so lovingly.-Julie Cummins, New York Public Library
An earnest, tender family portrait that parents will want to share with their children, especially when a new baby is due. MacLachlan conjures up an idyllic rural backdrop and introduces the members of a close-knit, extended family whose devotion to one another is part and parcel of their love for the rolling hills and woods that encircle them. Within this sanctuary, baby Eli is born, grows into childhood, and learns to cherish the people and places around him, eventually passing on what he has discovered to his little sister, Sylvie: "All the places to love are here . . . no matter where you may live." MacLachlan's lyrical narrative fixes the setting, lovely and quiet, while it tugs at the heartstrings. Wimmer's radiant, full-page paintings, a few so realistically detailed they look like color photographs, take us to the stream, across the fields, and into the barn, where Eli, with his grandfather, awaits the birth of baby Sylvie. But it's a flawless world that's pictured--not a real one. There's not a speck of dirt on Eli's nose, or a thunderstorm to break the peace. Still, both text and art will captivate parents longing for an affirmation of tradition and stability, and the heartwarming story will enchant children and grownups who understand the world as a safe and beautiful haven, filled with affection. For them, this loving book will be something to treasure.