Publishers Weekly: One Summer Up North

Review of One Summer Up North by John Owens

A wordless picture-book journey through the Boundary Waters, canoeing and camping with a family as they encounter the northwoods wilderness in all its spectacular beautyA brown-skinned child initially seems dubious about a canoeing and backpacking trip to what an author’s note from debut author Owens clarifies is Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. On the adventure’s first leg, via a long canoe stacked with supplies, the figure sits a bit sullenly between two adults, one white and one brown-skinned. But nature is powerful magic, whether it takes the form of a curtain of gray rain, water dappled with reflections of fluffy clouds, or a belt of silvery stars stretching across a night sky. While too small to portage the canoe, the child begins to engage throughout the cozy spreads, taking up a paddle, delighting in the tent, picking wild blueberries, helping to fish for dinner, and waving at a moose who shares the water; the adults enjoy solitude and partnership, too. Debut author Owens uses no words in these pages, and readers won’t miss them—digitally colored pencil illustrations, with their impressionistic touches of color, texture, and shape, exude a plainspoken eloquence. He adeptly portrays both big geographic expanses and wholly intimate moments of an affectionate family free from everyday distractions. 

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