Book Review: Time of Wonder (by Robert McCloskey)

Looking out at Penobscot Bay from Camden, Maine (by K. Walters)
I've read a lot of great books.  Almost all of my favorites are non-fiction works that either tell the story of someone's journey, document an adventure, describe the science behind a natural phenomenon, or give a look into a historical event.  Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey is a fiction book that does none of the above.  In fact, it's a children's book.  But it also happens to be my very favorite children's book.  I've read it with my daughters on many occasions and it still makes our senses and our minds come alive.  

McCloskey weaves a tale of a summer spent at the family cottage on an island in Maine's incredibly beautiful Penobscot Bay.  You follow the siblings in the story like their shadow as they listen to a rain approaching the shore, as they spend a foggy morning on the edge of nowhere, and as they sail near "porpoises puffing".  The idyllic summer begins to close as the community among the neighboring islands share in preparations for a late summer hurricane.  You'll find that this children's book becomes a page turner as the storm nears its' landfall.  McCloskey is a master at poking your senses with finely crafted, yet simple sentences.  

Have a quick read for yourself...
"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 - for wondering, for instance: Where do hummingbirds go in a hurricane?"

Maybe my own fond childhood memories of summer vacations along the Maine coast (Boothbay Harbor, Penobscot Bay, Bar Harbor) make it ridiculously easy for me to like this book.  Could be the time we took our oldest daughter (then just 2 years old) camping along Penobscot Bay.  Or perhaps it's the cover image of two young sailing sisters that reminds me of my own daughters.  Or maybe it's the way McCloskey weaves summer, sailing, and the sea into a story that holds my kids' attention.  No matter the reason, I think you'll like it too.  After all, Time of Wonder is a Caldecott winner for "the most distinguished picture book for children" in 1958.  

If you're interested, you can purchase Time of Wonder from by clicking below or on the book cover in the sidebar to the right, or just wander over to your local library.
Can you smell the salt air? (On the rocks in Acadia National Park - by K. Walters)


  1. Hello Kevin,

    I have been remiss in not responding to your posts earlier. I feel I am beginning to know your family, and I share your passion for sailing. We enjoy winter, but your blog page has been keeping me going as I look forward to getting up to our boat on Lake Huron this spring.

    Thanks for putting so many of the feelings I have about sailing into meaningful and insightful words. Keep up the good work.


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