CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 6. . . . November 15, 2002
Hobbled by the mud, Old Bob moved more and more slowly. The wagon creaked along, inch by inch. Lloyd was sure coyotes were watching from the bushes. An hour or more passed before he finally saw a light, tiny, far away and winking in the rain. His heart lifted. It must be Mrs. Edwards' farm.
During the influenza epidemic of 1918, Lloyd, a young boy, is sent to live with his aunt and uncle in the country so that he might be spared the terrible sickness. As luck would have it, on Lloyd's second day in the country, his aunt and uncle become seriously ill. Concerned for his four-day-old infant son, Uncle John asks Lloyd to take the baby to Mrs. Edwards' farmstead, five miles away so that Mrs. Edwards can phone the doctor and give the baby cow's milk to drink. Lloyd is reluctant to go. He is afraid of everything, especially the coyotes that howl at night, but he realizes the seriousness of the situation. Uncle John hitches the wagon to Old Bob, a huge horse (something else for Lloyd to fear!) and sends them on their way. When a thunderstorm turns the ground to muck, the wagon gets stuck, forcing Lloyd, with his precious cargo, to make the remainder of the journey on foot. After a week at Mrs. Edwards', Lloyd and the baby return to his aunt's and uncle's. Overjoyed and restored to health, Uncle John and Aunt Alice name their baby after Lloyd and Mrs. Edwards.
Reynolds' talents as a storyteller are evident in this historically authentic picture book. Simply told, the story engages readers from start to finish. Youngsters will identify with the boy's struggles to overcome his fears and his sense of accomplishment when he delivers the baby safely back home. Kilby captures the mood of both the story and a bygone era with his oil paintings. Well-suited to the text, they possess a wonderful play of light and shadow which is very effective. Particularly mood-provoking are the illustrations depicting Lloyd's harrowing ride to Mrs. Edwards'. The darkness, the rain, the lightning and the coyotes hiding in the forest add an eerie quality to the story. A gentle, heartwarming book, worthy of purchase.
Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian at Bird's Hill School in East St. Paul, MB.
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