Fish and herons, turtles and dragonflies, beaver lodges and lily pads—a multitude of wonders enchant both the child narrator and any other nature lovers along for the ride in this tender, beautifully illustrated picture book.
Baby ducklings ride their mama’s back; an osprey rises with a silver fish clutched in her talons; a loon cries in a star-flecked night. Rhythmic, rhyming quatrains carry the story forward in clean paddle strokes of evocative imagery. In the Red Canoe celebrates the bond between grandparent and grandchild and invites nature lovers of all ages along for the ride.
Davidson and Bifano make their picture book debuts with a quiet account of a girl's day on the lake with her grandfather. The girl narrates in sturdy rhyming verse ("We don't say much we mostly look./ He shows me everything./ The watery world goes sliding by./ Our paddles dip and swing"), describing their run-ins with beavers, "schools of fishy fry," ducklings with legs like motorboats, and other creatures. Bifano portrays the girl as a tomboyish type, eager to chase frogs down a "secret, muddy beach," but also content to rest against Grandpa's knees as swallows dart overhead. Painted in gouache, the scenes have the feeling of stills taken from a lushly rendered animated film, and Bifano pays careful attention to the changing quality of the light as day gives way to evening. For his part, Grandpa remains a silent, almost stoic presence, but Bifano's paintings give him a kindness that's cemented in a closing scene of him carrying the sleeping girl to their lakeside cabin beneath a starry sky. A warm story of intergenerational companionship and nature's everyday delights. Ages 4 8.