Monday 3 June 2013

The Deer Watch

The Deer Watch by Pat Lowry Collins, illustrated by David Slonim (Walker Books)
HC RRP $27.95
ISBN 9780763648909
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

This verse novel is the story of a father who makes a promise to his young son to take him deer watching. They have a long way to go to reach the woods. They climb sand dunes and see a buoy bobbing up and down with a boat close by. In the marshes a red-winged blackbird and an egret make an appearance. On the road to the woods they come across a noisy bulldozer that has scared all the birds away.

Then they enter the conservation land. It is silent. It appears that nothing is moving. But father explains that baby birds are still opening their mouths to be fed, and baby foxes and squirrels are going about their daily activities. When the boy is told to stand still and noiseless, that’s when the need to sneeze arises; when he wants to stretch his legs and change position.

After a sudden downpour, there is movement in the green woods. The two remain silent, unmoving. A doe and her two fawns go prancing by. The boy tries to tell his mother what he saw. But although the memory of that day will stay with him forever, he cannot find words to describe how he feels.

The beautiful, demure, understated illustrations appear at first to be painted on canvas but the thick, hard brush strokes and daubs of colour that merge and unite are oil on linen.

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