________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 7 . . . . November 29, 2002


Salmon Creek.

Annette LeBox. Illustrated by Karen Reczuch.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood, 2002.
48 pp., cloth, $16.95.
ISBN 0-88899-458-3.

Subject Heading:
Salmon-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 1 and up / Ages 6 and up.

Review by Val Nielsen.

**** /4

Author Annette LeBox is deeply concerned with the environment and the fragility of its flora and fauna. In Salmon Creek, as in her recently published picture book, Wild Bog Tea, LeBox makes a plea for the protection of a wild species and its habitat. The subject of her latest book is the Pacific coho salmon whose life cycle is one of nature's most remarkable stories. Her narrative starts with a mother salmon singing as she builds her nest and lays her eggs:

Home is the scent of cedar and creek,
Home is the journey's end...
I followed the stars and the river's pull.
I followed the salty air.
The sea was wide and beautiful,
But my heart wasn't there.

internal art

     One of her spawn is Sumi who is sleeping in her egg sac waiting for the time when she will split open her egg case and tumble into the creek. The reader follows Sumi as she grows and changes, feels the ineluctable pull from creek to sea and, many months later later, migrates back to her home creek to build her nest, lay her eggs and die. Sumi's journey is lovingly and lyrically told in language that is both simple and evocative. Each stage of Sumi's incredible journey is brought to life by a perfect combination of text and illustration. Karen Ruczuch, who will be remembered for her award-winning information picture book, The Story of Life on Earth, has created exquisitely detailed paintings depicting Sumi and the world she inhabits. Children will learn as much from examining the artist's stunning illustrations as they will from Le Box's moving description of the salmon's underwater odyssey.

     Most young children are keenly interested in the creatures who share their world. Information books on insects, mammals and reptiles have always had a wide readership among elementary age children, particularly boys. Such interest merits the kind of meticulous research which characterizes Le Box's and Reczuch's work. Teachers and students will find pages of valuable information at the end of the story, including a chart showing the eight stages of the Pacific salmon's three year life cycle and a discussion of threats to this specie’s existence. As well, the author provides a glossary and a list of resources for further reading or viewing. Salmon Creek is one of those rare information picture books which proves equally engaging to young listeners and older independent readers. (To say nothing of adult readers who can't help but savour the poetic text and breath-taking illustrations.) Salmon Creek is a "too good to miss" picture book, as beautiful as it is informative.

Highly Recommended.

A retired teacher-librarian, Valerie Nielsen lives in Winnipeg, MB.


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