CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 2 . . . . September 20, 2002
Will's younger brother has wandered away from the hard work of a farm family's harvest, and dark, storm clouds are looming in the late-afternoon, prairie sky. This is a dream opportunity for a wannabe Mountie. Will quickly transforms himself - changing into his red serge coat, Stetson hat, blue breeches and polished boots, and saddling up his black beauty Bess.
Writing in a lyrical style, former teacher Anne Laurel Carter uses detailed, descriptive language to take the reader on a horseback ride into the sights and sounds of the diverse, prairie landscape: through the "yellow stooks of drying wheat"; "down the coulee, to the valley where Saskatoon berries grow purple and sweet"; "beyond the dome of willow branches"; and, "across the wide open spaces" to where Will finds his little brother catching frogs in the slough. Now, the race is on. Can the boys make it back home in this wild storm? "Thundering outlaws shoot across the sky. Pow! Bolts of lightning fire at us, hail on our heels. Ping!" This is high drama. But, of course, a Mountie always gets his man and brings him back safely - it's all in the line of duty.
Award-winning illustrators Alan and Lea Daniel collaborate to beautifully represent and embellish the details of the story through their breath-taking, watercolour paintings. Large, realistic, brightly-coloured and earth-tone images at the beginning of the story, give way to harsh navy and violet tones that depict the drama of a prairie storm. Historical artifacts from the days "when the Mounties brought law and order to the frontier" are pictured in the side text panels, along with a range of flora and fauna from the living prairie.
This book is a virtual, prairie museum. While the story is rivetting on its own, the carefully researched text and illustrations provide the young reader with a rich and fascinating historical and geographical resource.
Wayne Serebrin teaches Language and Literacy in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.