Almost Time
by Schmidt, Gary D.; Stickney, Elizabeth; Karas, G. Brian (ILT)

Ethan eagerly anticipates making maple syrup with his father, but it will not be time until the days are warmer, the nights shorter, and Ethan's loose tooth falls out.

Gary D. Schmidt is the best-selling author of Pay Attention, Carter Jones; Orbiting Jupiter; the Newbery Honor and Printz Honor book Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy; and the Newbery Honor Book The Wednesday Wars. He is a professor of English at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Visit him online at

Elizabeth Stickney is the pseudonym of Anne Stickney Schmidt, the late wife of writer Gary D. Schmidt. The author of poems, essays, and picture books, she spent her childhood winters in Maine and waited eagerly for sugaring time.

G. Brian Karas is the award-winning author and illustrator of many acclaimed picture books. He lives in upstate New York. Visit him online at and on Twitter @gBrianKaras.

Moonlight highlights the bare-branched trees of winter as a little boy asks, "Is the sap running yet?" "Not until the days get warmer," answers Dad. On Sunday morning, there isn't any syrup on Ethan's cornbread. And next week, no syrup on his oatmeal. Plus, his loose tooth hasn't come out yet. Finally, days get warmer, the tooth comes out, and the sap starts to run. As the two collect the sap in buckets, tend the fire beneath the pans, boil the sap, and bottle it, breakfast is pancakes with sweet maple syrup. The final picture of a contented boy and a cuddly teddy bear is comfortable and sweet as the reward for a long wait is at last realized. Karas' distinctive mixed-media illustrations with muted hues and delicate lines expressively show the tenderness between father and child, emphasizing the perceived slowness of time passing and the difficulty of waiting. Each detailed picture has blurred borders for the cameos, contrasting with full-page depictions of the woods in both day and night. Preschool-Grade 2. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Time crawls for Ethan as he anxiously awaits the beginning of sugaring season. Sunday should mean maple syrup on any breakfast his dad cooks. But the maple syrup is used up, and sugaring time won't happen until the days lengthen. Is the sunny day just a little warmer? Is that a sliver of daylight at bedtime? Or is it only wishful thinking? Dad also says his new loose tooth will fall out when the sap runs. The days creep by, and it's still cold and dark, and his tooth is still there. Then, finally, the tooth is out, and his father is waiting after school to begin the sugaring process. They work together as a team during the whole process of lifting, carrying, boiling, and pouring to make the longed-for syrup. That first slightly lighter Sunday morning and a breakfast of pancakes with maple syrup are blissful. Young readers will relate to Ethan's impatience with the slow march from winter to spring, as they hope and wait along with him, even if they are used to the faster pace of city or suburbia. Karas' illustrations beautifully depict both the wintry fa rm in day and night and the loving, trusting father-and-son team as they share everyday moments and work together contentedly. Ethan and Dad present white. A gentle tale that is as sweet and delicious as maple syrup. (Picture book. 4-7) Copyright Kirkus 2019 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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