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Dog at pond

from Blue on Blue

Reviews for Blue on Blue

Starred Review: Publishers Weekly, June 7, 2014
Centered on a white-washed New England farmhouse and the fields and ocean that surround it, Krommes’s nostalgic scratchboard and watercolor spreads bring newcomer White’s clipped verse to life. The morning is fine, and the farmer’s daughter jumps rope while her mother hangs the wash. But a thunderstorm is coming: Huge black clouds pile up as wind gusts drive leaves airborne: “Thunder! Lightning!/ Raging, roaring./ Rain on rain on rain is pouring.” Caldecott Medalist Krommes (The House in the Night) shows the girl and her dog hiding under the bedclothes; the girl’s mother puts her baking aside to comfort the baby. When the worst is over (“Winds shift. Drops drip”), the girl plays in the mud, then helps her father bathe the family dogs as the sun sets. “Glitter stars, twinkling light” views the house from down low, the surrounding wildflowers appearing to dance amid the stars. White’s graceful pacing spreads the energy of the storm across the arc of the story, while Krommes’s primitive folk art gives a sense of the rhythms of life and nature that recur from season to season, year to year. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)

Starred Review: Kirkus, Aug. 1, 2014
A thunderstorm interrupts a young girl and her farm family's daily routine, until finally the drips stop dropping for some muddy fun before bedtime. Succinct rhymes, measured and musical, trace the arc of the day, from morning to moontime, with astonishing restraint, grace and fluidity. Words land on readers' ears with the pleasing, plodding patter of raindrops. Unexpected word choices endow simple poetry with remarkable inflections: "Gray on gray. Dark and glooming. / Black on black. Storm is looming"; "Pounding, hounding, noisy-sounding. / Dripping, dropping. Never stopping." Double-page illustrations, enriched by copious crosshatches and confident linework, bring the farm's kitchen, pastures, barnyard and stable into almost three-dimensional focus. Rounded shapes soften each scene, instilling the pictures with bosomy warmth that surfaces everywhere: as a hat, a bucket, a dandelion, a steppingstone, an umbrella, the sun. A radiant sun, beaming with bars of light clear to the horizon, serves as a perfect visual for this idyllic song for the agricultural family—one that's weathered many storms. Folk-art-inspired illustrations, astonishing in both their technical accomplishment and their heart, harmonize beautifully with lyrical language.

Starred Review: Booklist, Aug. 1, 2014
Readers can be forgiven if they think that this lovely picture book and the 2009 Caldecott Medal winner, The House in the Night, by Susan Marie Swanson, share the same author. Of course that’s because illustrator Krommes’ artwork is so intricately powerful that it tends to dominate each title. And as fine as the art is (and it’s very fine), that’s too bad, because both texts are outstanding. Here the story is about sun and rain and the effect it has on one family’s day. The story opens with a mother hanging laundry on a line while the children play: “Cotton clouds. Morning light. / Blue on blue. White on white.” But as the farm animals look on, the sky darkens, and soon the rain is falling. The storm makes the daughter hide under her covers, pigs look on warily as streams of water rush through their pens, and the baby’s cries meld with the torrent. Then everything slows—enough so that the girl can go outside with her umbrella; enough so rain rivers turn to mud. And then, finally, there’s sun once more. The lines of text are evocative and brief, giving children the opportunity to savor the words. The scratchboard-and-watercolor pictures expand the text with its country vistas and bring the intensity of storms close to home in the family scenes, offering more to see on each reading. A joyous, pelting, dripping celebration.

Starred Review: Shelf Awareness for Readers, Dec. 23, 2014
Debut author Dianne White describes in rhyming couplets the drama of a rainstorm. Caldecott Medalist Beth Krommes (The House in the Night) invents a visual story line about how it transforms the routine on an idyllic farm.

The book opens at daybreak: "Cotton clouds./ Morning light./ Blue on blue./ White on white." Krommes's scratchboard and watercolor illustrations create layers of possibilities: a white bird in a blue sky, a blue roof on a white clapboard house with blue curtains in the window, a white sail on a blue river. A girl and her baby sibling play outside as their mother hangs laundry. "Weather changes./ Air grows colder" accompanies a horse's eye–view from a hilltop: a farmer plows a field as his hat blows off, the pigs run for cover and, on the next page, the sailboat lists perilously. The girl and one of her two dogs hide under the covers in her room while, through the window, readers see the farmer lead the horses into the barn ("Thunder! Lightning!/ Raging, roaring"). Finally, "Winds shift./ Drops drip" and child and puppies venture out. One of the pups watches a turtle surface (children will love discovering two submerged turtles). "Muddy, muddy.../ everywhere!" ushers in a wallowing party for pigs and child.

By moonrise, everyone is clean and peaceful ("Glitter stars, twinkling light./ Black on gold.../ on silver night"), from the house to the barn to the sea. Krommes connects these three setting through her palette and the stars shining through them all.

— Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness