Most adults know, and many have read, Henry Beston's beloved account of the year he spent in a shack high on a dune overlooking the thundering surf of the Atlantic. Here, on the outer forearm of Cape Cod, looking uninterrupted due east to Portugal, he made a life in a 16 x 20' shack, simply furnished with a kitchen, a bed, a chest of drawers, a writing table, and a few chairs. He lived there, alone, through the changing seasons, the migration of birds, the howling of the winter storms, the occasional visits of surfmen from nearby Nauset Station, and the turning of the stars in the night sky. During the days, he would wander along the beach, take notes, and think. At dusk he would come home to write by lantern light. The result was his immortal record of that year on the Nauset dunes, The Outermost House. The house was known as "The Fo'c'sle."
"In a serene picture-book account of Beston's sojourn, Nan Parson Rossiter has captured in oil paintings the lonesome, windswept beauty that drew Beston to the ocean. . . . Some picture books seek to educate, some to excite; this one feels like a restful pause." -Wall Street Journal
Sometime in early march, the cry of "Sap's Rising" can be heard in rural New England. In this lovely picture book, a father, his two sons, and one dog rise (very early) to the occasion and set off at dawn to the sugar bush to begin the process. Rossiter paints the action so that it is both personal and factual; we see the entire family involved - Mom preparing the meals, Dad steering the big John Deer tractor through the fields, and the two sons, Seth and Ethan, learning how to steer, collecting the buckets, and replacing them on the spouts, and, of course, the loyal hound Chloe (probably the only dog so named on any farm in New England) trotting along for the ride. Everyone participates in the hard work - hauling the buckets full of sap to the holding tank - and also in the fun work - reducing forty gallons of sap to one gallon of syrup in a big evaporator in the steamy storehouse. And, of course, testing and tasting the syrup. Continually.
Rugby, the family's beloved Labrador retriever, finds himself unhappy with the new house guest, Rosie, a puppy brought home to be trained as a guide dog, but they soon become the closest of friends, until she has to leave to do the important work for which she is trained.
When Samuel and his father find an injured Canada goose and her loyal mate near their farm, they know they must help the birds. The geese quickly become part of the barnyard routine, and Samuel grows to love them both. By the time the injured female and her mate finally fly south to join their flock, Samuel feels proud and also terribly sad. The winter seems long and lonely, but with the spring thaw comes a wonderful surprise for Samuel--and for readers, too.
- THE FO'C'SLE - Henry Beston's Outermost House
- RUGBY & ROSIE -
Winner of Nebraska's 1999 Golden Sower Award!