In the Red Canoe

by Leslie A Davidson (Author) Laura Bifano (Illustrator)

In the Red Canoe
Reading Level: K − 1st Grade
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.

Publishers Weekly

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. (Oct.)

Copyright 2016 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 2--A girl and her grandfather greet the magic of nature in the bow of their red canoe in this delicate and elegant tale. The story moves forward with rhythm that echoes the noise of a paddled canoe, with vivid similes (green lily pads like floating hearts), melodic alliteration (a slippery silver prize), and rhyming quatrains. Readers are introduced to different animals, like the loon and osprey. Bifano's full-bleed gouache illustrations are vivid but also mirror the gentleness of the text with soft colors and flowing lines. Her use of a variety of perspectives (looking upward from underwater, floating alongside lily pads, flying in the claws of a rising osprey) add to the book's magical and dreamlike qualities, and her depictions of the girl and her grandfather evoke a sweetness expressed by the text. VERDICT A beautiful introduction to nature that will succeed in storytimes and one-on-one readings alike.--Laura Lintz, Henrietta Public Library, Rochester, NY

Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"Quiet, reflective, and steadily paced, this reads aloud well. The rhymes are smooth...and the rhythm steady, with a nice surprise at the end...A pleasant, peaceful reminder of the wonders that can be found in the natural world, just right for bedtime."— Kirkus Reviews
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
October 20, 2016

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