Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Gathering: A Northwoods Counting Book

Gathering: A Northwoods Counting Book

Betsy Bowen
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 9
Houghton Mifflin, 1999   ISBN: 978-0395981337

As early as late May, the family starts getting ready for winter, for in the northwoods, winters are long and cold. Food has to be grown, tended, and then in the fall, it is harvested. Rhubarb is frozen to be used to make jam and pies; blueberries are gathered to be made into muffins and pancakes later in the year; wild rice is harvested and will be used to make thick hearty soups on snowy days in the months to come.

Wood has to be stacked, skis are looked over, and the chimney is swept so that it will be all ready for the days when fires will burn in the stove to "keep away the cold."

This beautifully illustrated counting book can be enjoyed on many levels. Smaller children can follow the counting aspect of the book and look at the lovely rich woodcut illustrations. Older children and adults will find the descriptions of the preparations that are made for the winter months interesting, and they will get a superb picture of what it might be like to live in the northwoods. They will see how life in these parts is heavily influenced by the seasons. Away from the world of malls and grocery stores, this is a place where everyone has to work hard, and play hard, before the snow begins to fall.