Author & Ilustrator: Jim LaMarche
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2016
Themes: pond, discovery, seasons
This is so weird,” I said to myself as I watched the clear water bubble up from the ground. We had always called it “the Pit.
I followed the icy stream as it ran through the sand and gravel and passed through the rocks out into the woods.
I slowly looked all around me. “It’s not a pit,” I said out loud. “I can do it but I’m going to need help.
I ran home and gathered my sister, Katie, and my best friend, Pablo.
“The Pit…’” I said excitedly.”
“Yeah, so?” said Pablo.
“I think the Pit was once a pond!” I said. I told them about the bubbling water and my idea.
“Let’s do it, Matt!” said Pablo.
“I’m in,” said Katie.
Matt, his sister, Katie and best friend, Pablo, discover that a pit in their yard used to be a pond. With a bit of hard work and ingenuity, they damn up the pit, so it becomes a pond again. They find and refurbish an old boat, and are rewarded to see the return of native wildlife. One day, they notice that the pond is shaped like a heart, and they are moved to put the quartz heart, they found in the clearing, where they sense it belongs – back in the pond. That afternoon, they are joined briefly by animals such as deer, geese, ducks, rabbits, and turtles that have benefitted from the reforming of the pond.
Why I like this book:
The heart of this story is about a boy finding a hint of what was and what could be. It’s about having determination and dedication to preserve, protect and resurrect. It is about three young people watching the pond as it transforms through the seasons, and the respect for the natural world they draw from this year of experiences. I love the slow pace and discovery, and sense of respect LaMarche conveys. I love how other kids benefit during the winter ice-skating season, yet it remains a special place for these three.
LaMarche’s colored pencil and acrylic illustrations are evocative and give you a sense of the seasons spent by the pond. He has a beautiful way of illustrating the light reflecting off the pond and includes many woodland animals in the scenes.
I like the diversity among the three kids. I was a little less enamored by some stereotypical gender tasks, but this may be because it was based of his childhood memories. It still remains a longer-than-usual stunning, inspiring book for slightly older elementary children.
Pair this with If You Spent a Day with Thoreau at Walden Pond
Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.