This is the story of young Liz, her father, and their strained relationship. Dad has been away at WWII for longer than she can remember, and they begin their journey of reconnection through a hunting shirt, cherry pie, tender conversation, and the crow call. This allegorical story shows how, like the birds gathering above, the relationship between the girl and her father is graced with the chance to fly.
A parent returning as a stranger after WWII could be a difficult situation, but in Newbery Medalist Lowry’s first picture book, drawn from her childhood, the reunion brings warmth and trust. Out on a fall hunting trip with her father, Lizzie is quiet with apprehension (“Daddy. Daddy. Saying it feels new”). Yet he respects her wishes, even when they’re quirky. When she longs for a plaid hunting shirt many sizes too big, he endorses her choice: “You know, Lizzie... You will never ever outgrow this shirt.” He orders three pieces of cherry pie (her favorite food) for breakfast. She’s worried about the idea of hunting; he gives her the crow call—“I’m pretty sure you can handle it”—and the crows gather like magic. To her relief, her father never fires his gun. Ibatoulline (The Scarecrow’s Dance) fittingly dedicates his artwork to Andrew Wyeth. The Pennsylvania countryside, in shades of gold and fawn, undulates behind Lizzie and her father, the quiet colors echoing the intimacy they share. It’s a loving representation of a relationship between parent and child, and an elegy to a less ironic era, while fully relevant for today’s military families. Ages 9–12. (Oct.)