Saturday, August 16, 2008

Summer Dreams: Carl's Summer Vacation by Alexandra Day

It's high summer, and loaded in their old square station wagon, Carl and his family have just arrived at the cabin on Moon Lake. Carl helpfully carries in a small duffel as Mother, Father, and little Madeleine head for the door.

"We sure have a lot to do this afternoon to get the cabin cleaned up and dinner ready. The Harrises are coming, you know.

You two have a good nap so you'll be ready to go see the fireworks tonight." say Mother, tucking Marguerite into the hammock with an orange life jacket for a pillow.

But napping is not in Carl's plan for this golden afternoon. Strapping Madeleine into the life jacket, Carl plunks her into a canoe and the two push off. It's not long, of course, before picking water lilies turns into a dunk in the lake, but with a quick shake for Carl and a toweling off for Maddy, the two venture out into the trees, picking and eating a few blackberries and swinging and sliding at the playground. When Carl decides to field a hit in the nearby baseball game, he sets off a rules controversy:

"You're out!"

"No, I'm not. That dog's not on your team!"

"It's fan interference."

"He's not a fan. He's a dog."

Carl and Madeleine move on to the lake shore, and while she watches the sailboat races, Carl buries his nose in the picnickers' potato chip bags. A quick freshening up in a lawn sprinkler and the two arrive back home just as the parents come to call them for dinner.

Madeleine nods a bit during dinner, but when the potato salad is all gone, the family and their guests stroll off to watch the fireworks. But Madeleine snoozes through the whole show on her dad's shoulder, and Carl stumbles back home, half asleep, to the bemusement of the grown ups.

"I just don't know what's wrong with these two. They didn't eat and they're exhausted even though they had a long nap!"

It's a midsummer's eve reverie, as dreamlike as all of Carl's adventures, set off by a warm watercolor landscape that matches those summer memories we all have, with a special glow added by the fantasy of a wonderful big caretaking dog to carry us off into secret adventures. In Carl's Summer Vacation (Carl) author-illustrator Alexandra Day once more takes us along to visit that special magical border between reality and fantasy in which small children live.

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