The Birchbark House) skillfully weaves family memories into a poignant and lyrical story of home and hearth. The symbolism may be more moving to adults, "/>

THE RANGE ETERNAL

Louise Erdrich, Author, Steve Johnson, Illustrator, Lou Fancher, Illustrator , illus. by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. Hyperion $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7868-0220-3

Erdrich (The Birchbark House) skillfully weaves family memories into a poignant and lyrical story of home and hearth. The symbolism may be more moving to adults, but the theme of family and preservation will resonate with children. A young mother relates how when she was a girl in the Turtle Mountains, a wood-burning, enameled stove ("The Range Eternal" emblazoned on the front) provided the family with good soup, warmth and protection. As she looks through the stove's window, the girl sees in its flames "pictures of long ago" that conjure up a range of another kind ("I saw the range of the buffalo... the wolf range and fox range.... I saw the Range Eternal." Johnson and Francher (New York's Bravest) suffuse their breathtaking paintings with light—buffalo and deer gallop in golden clouds across the landscape; in a later painting, the steam from a pot of soup curls through the afternoon sun as the young mother longs for a "center of true warmth" like that of her childhood. When she finds a stove just like her family's in an antique shop, she brings it home and teaches her son "to enter the pictures... to see... the living range restored." Erdrich skillfully works in homely details, crafting language both musical and evocative (the girl is "tucked into the stillness" on a winter night; the stove is the "warm heart of the house"). Sumptuous paintings of the plains and cozy domestic scenes combine with graceful language to describe the rituals that keep family and community together. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 09/09/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
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