The Dam

illus. by Levi Pinfold. 32p. Candlewick. Sept. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780763695972.
Gr 2–5—Set in Northumberland, England, this is a quiet, understated tale about a boarded-up town before it's covered by flood water from a newly built dam. Almond tells of a father and daughter venturing out across a valley one last time in the dim light of dawn. Pinfold's pen, charcoal, and pastel scenes spread darkly across wide pages showing the broad valley, the dam's curving structure, and the two figures entering the first house and making music and dancing in the dark, empty rooms. Several pages group many small scenes. The father reminds the girl of his and her own past visits here for dances and parties and songs by famous musicians. "Now play. Play for all that are gone and for all that are to come." Finally, on the new lake front "The music rises../It continues./We hear it in the birds/and in the waves/and in the leaves/and in the grass." It's a haunting tale of loss ending in renewal as people come to the created lake for recreation. The subdued, somber tone of the text and pictures will elude many picture book readers. Almond's end note on the true story offers satisfying closure.
VERDICT This hints at a ghostly tale that could make nice material for oral storytelling and shared reading with some older children. It might also be fun to use in music, natural science, and local history classes.

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