Leora Janson Sipp’s new picture book is a loving celebration of the family farm and the springtime ritual of waiting for the sap to run and then making maple syrup. Linda Shaw’s lovely watercolor illustrations reveal all the surprising colors of the northern woods at the final edge of winter, bringing this nostalgic book to life in warm detail.
Logan, 7, and his mother live in California. When she suggests a spring vacation learning how to make maple syrup and homemade pancakes with relatives, Logan must be convinced to leave his friends behind. But when he arrives at Uncle Ralph and Aunt Virginia’s farm outside Cleveland for sugaring season, he soon learns just how engaging making this maple treat can be.
Uncle Ralph introduces his nephew to the magic of the “sugar bush,” a grove of maple trees deep in the woods. Less than a month before, Ralph had drilled small holes into the trees. He had then placed spouts into the holes, from which he hung buckets to catch the dripping maple sap. When he and Logan arrive, the buckets are full and they pour the fresh sap into a large tank. When it is boiled at a very high temperature, the sap is transformed into the delicious syrup Logan savors on his morning pancakes.
While the book suffers slightly from irregular copyediting, Sipp has done a thorough job of outlining a syrup maker’s almost-lost art, including the careful order of the preparation steps as well as the beauty of the end-of-winter world in which it takes place. One can feel the expectation of spring in the air and almost smell the sugary maple scent. Young readers curious about how things are made will be well rewarded by Sipp’s authentic tale.
Also available as an ebook.