What do you do when there's nothing to do? That's the question that Wood (Old Turtle) ponders in this picture-book celebration of the joys to be found in all-too-rare unscheduled time. As a grateful young narrator explains, sometimes there are days signified by "just a white, empty space on the calendar." On those days of no school, no lessons, no activities, kids can explore, wander, create toy ships or paper airplanes, read "your very favorite book" in a quiet spot and just plain relax-"And isn't that great?" Woods's leisurely paced observances of various free-time pursuits-cloud watching, fort building, walking barefoot in the mud-is perfectly matched to his theme. Halperin's (Turn, Turn, Turn) watercolors exude an equally easy-going, reverie-like quality and often feature several kid-like pastimes and images simultaneously in a variety of small vignettes that share a spread. The artist experiments with patterns and designs that represent types of natural growth, including branchlike and spherical partitions (as explained in her artist's note); the result is visually and thematically arresting. A wonderful choice for lazy days or as an antidote to crazy-busy ones. Ages 4-up. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Despite the heavy schedule most youngsters have these days, Wood explores that rare day when there is "absolutely, positively nothing...to do. And isn't that great?" What to do then, is the question. Wood offers a myriad of answers, such as exploring outdoors, watching the clouds or ants, or making all kinds of things from toy ships to paper airplanes. How about catching fireflies, climbing, swinging, or just quietly reading? The suggestions go on and on. The book ends with a suggestion that perhaps grown-ups might try "doing nothing," too. In a long and illustrated artist's note, Halperin explains her design strategy, which is based on the eight patterns that occur in nature: alternation, helix, meandering, etc. The endpapers demonstrate these patterns in subtle drawings. In one illustration, a young protagonist relaxes on a sofa and ponders freedom. Then, successive double-page spreads demonstrate multiple activities organized in the eight patterns: A snowflake in the center of a honeycomb framework oversees a variety of snowy possibilities. The helix shape shows different kinds of swinging. The artist, noted for her multiple miniatures, continues to produce lively, naturalistic mini scenes for viewing pleasure. The author adds a background note, as well. 2006, Dutton Children's Books/Penguin Young Readers Group, Ages 4 to 8.
Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
PreS-Gr 2-The wide and enticing variety of activities mentioned by an unseen narrator should quell any child's complaint, "there's nothing to do." Suggestions include watching cloud formations, building a fort, catching fireflies and then letting them go, sledding, painting, and climbing a tree. Books offer possibilities, too: "finding a quiet spot and reading your very favorite book. And then reading it again...just because it is your favorite." Some pastimes, many of which span the seasons, are only revealed in the remarkable pictures and are demonstrated by a multicultural assortment of children. The watercolor and pen-and-ink spreads lend themselves to close examination as the pictures are chock-full of pleasant details. The designs they incorporate were inspired by the eight patterns found in nature-including the spiral, the sphere, the helix, and branching-and create delightful surprises at page turns. This enjoyable and useful title will inspire children on those rare occasions when precious free time magically materializes.-Maryann H. Owen, Racine Public Library, WI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
In this heartfelt, if not particularly logical, plea to make the most of unstructured time, Wood catalogues ways to enjoy it, and as is her wont, Halperin really fills in the details. Looking like a tween but sounding adult, the narrator claims to have heard of some ways to fill in those times when there is no school, no dance class, no Little League, "just a white, empty space on the calendar." There could be walks, cloud-watching, reading and then rereading favorite books, making snow angels or paintings and a wide range of other pleasures. Inspired by a scientist's work on natural patterns, Halperin frames blizzards of finely drawn children and common objects (unsurprisingly, there's not a GameBoy in sight) in eight common forms of growth, from spirals to explosions. The author and illustrator both open with philosophical notes in small type, so this is plainly addressed to both grownups and children. Some might see a contradiction in suggesting so many ways to fill in idle hours-but the idea that such might come along now and then is a worthy one to introduce to readers with over-structured lives. (Picture book. 7-10)