The Road Home

illus. by Sarah Jacoby. 32p. Abrams. Mar. 2017. Tr $15.95. ISBN 9781419723742.
PreS-Gr 1—Cotton's rhythmic poem, in rhyming quatrains, features four mother/child pairs—each seeking shelter from the approaching harshness of winter. Mother bird prepares her chick for the tiring flight south ("where sun still warms the ground."). Mother field mouse and her baby gather straw and leaves to make a winter nest. Mother wolf and her cub hunt for prey to satisfy their hunger, and mother rabbit leads her bunny to nighttime safety in a snow-covered mound, warning him to beware of the wolf who stalks them. Each two-stanza poem begins with a similar phrase ("Fly with me"; "Build with me") and ends with the refrain, "This road is hard, this road is long,/this road that leads us home"—in the end offering comfort ("You are here, and I'm with you/…and so this road is home."). There is a lot to search for in the soft watercolor paintings, where the birds fly over a river toward the fading sun, the mice build their nest amid the last wildflowers of fall, the wolves chase rabbits through a forest of falling leaves, and the inky night, illuminated by a full autumn moon and a profusion of stars, fades into a rosy dawn sky, highlighting green grass and trees, coaxing mothers and their young from their cozy hideaways. Each gentle rhyme carries a mother's warning to her child of what's to come and her assurance of the security of home.
VERDICT A soothing, comforting, sleep-inducing bedtime message best shared one-on-one. A strong purchase for larger collections.

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