FICTION

Kate, Who Tamed The Wind

illus. by Lee White. 40p. websites. Random/Schwartz & Wade. Feb. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781101934791.
COPY ISBN
RedReviewStarK-Gr 3—Young Kate helps tame the wind that disrupts the life of a man living atop a steep hill by planting a stand of aspen trees. Delightful cumulative text describes the ever-present wind that bangs shutters, bends boards, spills tea, and even drives the birds away. The rhythm of the lengthening sentences as the number of blown items builds seems to mirror the growing intensity of the wind's force. Finally, the man cries, "What to do?" His cry is heard by little Kate playing at the foot of the hill. Doodling on the sidewalk, she arrives at a solution: trees. Kate loads her wagon with saplings, climbs the hill, and she and the man plant the trees together. As the trees grow along with the girl, they provide some protection from the blowing wind, transforming the man's house at the "tip-top of the green hill" from a "creeky" one to a place where the "dust [now dies] down, the tea steep[s], and the birds peep[s]." The illustrations, executed in watercolor and ink and digitally rendered, depict the wind in swirls of white across the pages. Clothing, shutters, curtains, and even food and kitchen utensils fly in the air. Kate, frowning with hands on hips, appears resourceful and determined. An informative author's note provides information about the importance of trees in our ecosystem as well as websites for ideas about how to protect them.
VERDICT The lyrical text begs to be read aloud and is perfect for Arbor Day or Earth Day celebrations. A first purchase for ecology units as well as collections featuring bold girls.—Marianne Saccardi, Children's Literature Consultant, Cambridge, MA
This ecologically friendly picture book opens quietly, but it soon pivots from its lulling beginning ("The man lived all alone in the creaky house on the tip-top of a steep hill where a soft wind blew") to a story full of gale-force mayhem, as the man's laundry blows off the line and shutters bang and clapboards fly off the house. "What to do?" Enter young Kate, who puts her mind to it and comes up with a solution: plant trees. The years pass (a series of panels shows a tree in four stages, from sapling to fully grown); the wind quiets to a "bright breeze"; and the man and Kate, both older, enjoy a picnic on his now-?sheltered lawn. White's watercolor, ink, and digital illustrations employ a soft palette, ceding the focus of the pictures to the perpetual motion and commotion they contain, as teapots spill violently and curtains billow and the man's hat blows off his head and flies away. ?Scanlon's poetic text returns over and over to words that rhyme with blew ("The time flew as the trees grew... / and grew... / and Kate did, too"), but with enough unpredictability to lend interest and energy. And at the end, Scanlon returns to the long e sound (now, to rhyme with tree), as the "tea steeped, and the birds peeped...and the old man poured sweet tea." A note on trees--their benefits and place in the ecosystem--closes the book. martha v. parravano

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