________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 22. . . .June 26, 2009


Timmerman Was Here.

Colleen Sydor. Illustrated by Nicolas Debon.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2009.
32 pp., hardcover, $21.99.
ISBN 978-0-88776-890-3.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Reesa Cohen.

**** /4

Reviewed from f&g's.



A young girl is not prepared to like the boarder that her mother takes in, especially because he takes the room once occupied by her grandfather.

     But Timmerman's gentle ways, his kind voice, his ability to win over the family dog, Henrietta, and his helpful qualities soon conquer the concerns of the narrator of this story. Still, his mysterious nocturnal journeys continue to arouse her suspicions as well as those of her neighbours and the school kids.

It seems several of our neighbors had seen Timmerman walking around late at night, carrying a spade and an old burlap sack. It didn't take long for the kids at school to fire up their imaginations, and before I knew it, there were rumors flying. Some said Timmerman was a notorious bank robber who had come to town to bury his loot. Others said he'd just gotten out of prison and had come back to dig up the money he had buried years earlier. And when Mrs. Anderson's tabby went missing, they said it wasn't money Timmerman had in his sack at all, but dead cats.

internal art     Her fierce defence of Timmerman results in a black eye, yet doubts about that old burlap sack and a spade caked in mud still continue to plague her. Her grandfather's wisdom supports her instincts to truly like this different man, and her faith in him is rewarded. Timmerman's departing and truly lasting gift to the neighbourhood will surprise and delight readers.

      One is never disappointed opening a new picture book by Colleen Sydor. Written in simple, yet colorful prose, her stories resonate with layers of meaning that draw readers into her charming spell. This one is no exception, and the plot is further enhanced by Debon's inventive art work. Many of the pictures feature dark colours and shadows which perfectly suit the mysterious quality of this engaging story. Rendered in gouache and coloured wax pencils, the double page illustrations set the tone and the place of an earlier era.

Highly Recommended.

Reesa Cohen is a retired Instructor of Children's Literature and Information Literacy at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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