________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 17 . . . . April 25, 2003


Amber Waiting. (Northern Lights Books for Children)

Nan Gregory. Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton.
Calgary, AB: Red Deer Press, 2002.
32 pp., cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 0-88995-258-2.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 3-6.

Review by Alison Mews.

* /4


Waiting so long every day gives Amber time to plan. One day she'll find out how to fly, and when she does, she'll pick up her dad and fly him away to the moon. She'll tell him, "I'll be back in no time."

Then she'll swing high in cold places with penguins and hot places where elephants are. Her feet will touch rooftops! Dads all over the world will see.

Award winners Nan Gregory and Kady MacDonald Denton have teamed up to create this attractive picture book, but unfortunately the story is dissatisfying on several levels. It concerns a child named Amber who loves Kindergarten but hates having to wait for her dad. While waiting in the corridor one day, she imagines what it would be like if she could make him wait for her for a change while she does marvelous things, and when she finally returns for him, he'll understand about waiting. When Amber's father does breeze in and is taken to task by the school secretary for being an hour late, he gives no apologies but "smiles his famous smile." As they're leaving Amber asks him whether he's ever had to wait for someone "scared and lonely" and he finally seems to see waiting from her perspective. But as the book ends with them happily going off home together, we can only hope that he will mend his tardy ways. Rather than being open-ended, however, the story feels unfinished. The father seems particularly insensitive to his small child, the school allows a Kindergarten child to wait in an unsupervised area, and the child's fantasy of teaching her dad a lesson seems to be glorified petulance. The questions remain unanswered: Why is he always late? Will he pick her up on time from now on?

     Kady MacDonald Denton's trademark cartoon-like illustrations depict a happy little Kindergarten girl who progressively becomes bored, exasperated and angry as her dad doesn't show. Denton shows the school clock steadily marking time, and her visual portrayal of Amber's daydream reinforces this with various watch-faces, including one inscribed in the ice by Amber's skates.

     While this book will strike a chord with every child who has ever had to wait for a grownup, I found the story disturbing. I find it hard to see this as a story that teachers would share with their Kindergarten classes, or that parents (tardy or timely) would read to their own children. Overall, I do not feel I can recommend this story.

Not Recommended.

Alison Mews is the Director of the Curriculum Materials Centre at the Faculty of Education, Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John's NF.

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

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