|North Woods Girl
written by Aimée Bissonette
illustrated by Claudia McGehee
Minnesota Historical Society Press
About the Book
Time with Grandma teaches about quiet observation, generous sharing of resources, the beauty of the forest and pond at any hour. Grandma is the quintessential north woods girl, breathing deep the piney scents, relishing the chirping activity of her animal neighbors. Small wonder that her admiring granddaughter is inspired to follow in her footsteps. With a tale as understated as Grandma herself, Aimée Bissonette shares a message of appreciating the treasures of our natural surroundings.
A peek inside the book
About the Illustrator
Claudia McGehee is an illustrator-author living in a tallgrass prairie state. Her creative inspiration comes directly from nature, especially the regional prairies and woodland around her, and the Pacific Northwest, where she grew up. Claudia pairs her main illustration medium, scratchboard, with vivid watercolor to create earthy, wood-cut like images. Learn more about Claudia.
“[T]he narrator's heartfelt observations of the seasons and admiration of her grandma ring with authenticity. McGehee's scratchboard, watercolor, and dye illustrations are executed with just the right primitive note and add significant appeal to the overall story with their excellent design and expert color sense. A celebration of both family and nature with exemplary illustrations.”
A girl sings the praises of her grandmother in Bissonette’s children’s book debut, illustrated by McGehee (My Wilderness: An Alaskan Adventure) in sturdy scratchboard images that underscore the ruggedness of both Grandma and the landscape she loves. Throughout the seasons, the girl and her grandmother, who describes herself as “not a good-looking woman” and wears her late husband’s flannel shirts, enjoy what the woods have to offer. In the spring, that means studying migrating birds (a circular close-up of ducks in a pond lets readers feel like they are peering through binoculars alongside these two “north woods girls”). And in winter, the season they like “best of all,” they take a midnight stroll across a snow-covered field. Tinted with dyes and watercolors, McGehee’s illustrations have the static grace of stained glass, and girl and grandmother take on an almost saintly appearance as they gaze up at a winter moon. It’s a book that celebrates life’s simple, quiet pleasures—from canning summer vegetables to savoring the smell of pine—as well as the importance of sharing them with like-minded souls of any age.
Over the course of this lovely book, a young girl pays seasonal visits to her grandma, a feisty, sweet and unconventional North Woods dweller. Thanks to Aimée Bissonette’s engaging narrative and Claudia McGehee’s dense, gorgeous scratchboard renderings of the natural world, we’re immersed in their wanderings and explorations in a way completely captivating. Another fine effort from the Minnesota Historical Society Press, where they’ve mastered the art of putting authors and illustrators together with great success.
One of the prettiest and well-written books of the season is narrated by a girl who admires her grandmother for not looking like other grandmas: "She's bony. And she dresses in Grandpa's old flannel shirts." But Grandma knows the woods behind her house and where to observe animals and ducks. In winter, the girl and Grandma walk the nighttime snowy woods. In summer, they plant a big garden. ... This charming story of intergenerational love and appreciation of our natural surroundings is brought to life by McGehee's richly colored scratchboard drawings.
Aimée Bissonette's photo by Sarah Pierce. Site maintained by Winding Oak.
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