It isn't really a story as much as it is a chronicle of observations about different aspects of island life and the activities of two sisters on the island, all narrated in the third person from the point of view of one of the girls. It begins with dark clouds moving across all the islands until they reach the one where the family is staying, watching as the rain approaches and finally begins to fall, chasing the sisters inside. A foggy morning greets them the next day, but it eventually gives way to a bright sunny warmth, as the girl marvels at the sights and sounds of nature all around her.
What follows is a summer filled with happy days of sailing, exploring, swimming, and playing with friends, observing the natural world of birds, fish, animals, flora and fauna usual to a Maine island, side by side with the people who work and live there - lobster fishermen, herring and scallop fishermen, the people who run the supply stores.
As summer winds down, a hurricane blows in. And then it is time to pack up and go home, back to their school year routine.
Time of Wonder is a delightful look at one idyllic summer. McCloskey's text is poetic, simple, lyrical and dreamlike. The watercolor illustrations are done in an almost ethereal style that harmonizes so perfectly with the text, This is clearly a place McCloskey loved, and in fact, he did spent summers there with his wife and two daughters. So yes, like Blueberries for Sal, Time of Wonder does seem to be based on some real life events.
This has always been one of my Kiddo's favorite books, and I can see why. We spent every summer at the beach when she was growing up and she always said it was her favorite time of year because it reminded her of Time of Wonder (even though we were on the Jersey shore and not Maine). And this book really does capture that feeling of summer by the ocean. Each time I read it, I can smell the salt air, hear the seagulls cry, feel the waves crashing against my legs, and yes, battening down the hatches for a hurricane (we've been caught in a few of those, including this year).
McCloskey has left us with just the right words to sum up summer and welcome autumn:
Take a farewell look
at the waves and sky.
Take a farewell sniff
of the salty sea.
A little bit sad
about the place you are leaving,
a little bit glad
about the place you are going.
It is a time of quiet wonder -
This book is recommended for readers of any age
This book was purchased for my personal library
We were all prepared for this year's hurricane, but Hermine turned out to be a tropical storm by the time it reached us on the Jersey shore. Aside from beach erosion to the point where the beach just disappeared, there was lots of wind, sun and lifeguards whistling people out of the water: