Cover image for Almost time
Almost time
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
Ethan eagerly anticipates making maple syrup with his father, but it will not be time until the days are warmer, the nights shorter, and Ethan's loose tooth falls out.


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Stillwater Public Library1On Order



A tender father-and-son story about the passage of time, the change of seasons, and the excitement of reaching a goal.

Eager for maple syrup, Ethan can't wait till sugaring time rolls around. And he can't wait till his loose tooth falls out. But his father keeps telling him it's not time yet, and no matter how hard he tries, he can't make time pass more quickly. The closeness of father and son is evident throughout as they wait and then celebrate the end of waiting. The brief, lyrical text is illuminated by G. Brian Karas's beautifully composed, evocative illustrations.

Author Notes

Gary D. Schmidt is the best-selling author of Pay Attention, Carter Jones; Orbiting Jupiter; the Newbery Honor and Printz Honor book Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy ; and the Newbery Honor Book The Wednesday Wars . He is a professor of English at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Visit him online at hmhbooks . com / Schmidt .
Elizabeth Stickney is the pseudonym of Anne Stickney Schmidt, the late wife of writer Gary D. Schmidt. The author of poems, essays, and picture books, she spent her childhood winters in Maine and waited eagerly for sugaring time.
G. Brian Karas is the award-winning author and illustrator of many acclaimed picture books. He lives in upstate New York. Visit him online at www . gbriankaras . com and on Twitter @gBrianKaras.

Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

Set in maple sugaring country, this tale by Schmidt (Pay Attention, Carter Jones) and Stickney (the pen name of Schmidt's late wife) examines the difficulty of waiting for exciting things when they unfold at the natural world's pace. Ethan knows what season it is by the breakfast he's served: "When Ethan had to eat his pancakes with applesauce instead of maple syrup one Sunday morning, he knew it was almost sugaring time." But it's still several weeks before the days are warm enough for the sap to run. Illustrations by Karas (Night Job) use soft, wintry colors with grainy textures as Ethan discovers a loose tooth ("Now Ethan had two things to wait for"). He spends his days wiggling his tooth, sledding, and trying "not to think about maple syrup." When the tooth comes out and the sap runs at last (a spread shows pails hanging on the family's trees), Ethan and his dad share the work of making syrup, captured in a series of panel illustrations. Schmidt's story centers on a single-parent household, with a father who pays quiet attention to his son ("How's that tooth?"), and shows him that waiting is part of life. Ages 4--7. (Jan.)

Horn Book Review

Waiting for spring can wear on ones patience, but readers may find comfort sharing the burden with Ethan and his (apparently single-parent) father, who go through their daily routines looking forward to warmer days, shorter nights, and running sap in their maple trees. Still, Ethan has quite a wait yet, and as time passes, the illustrations show the stark contrasts of dark skies and long shadows with indoor lights and white snow. And, week after week, Ethan faces Sunday breakfast sans maple syrup, while the nights remain long and the days cold. A loose tooth provides a break in the monotony but ultimately creates yet another thing to wait for. Through muted colors with pops of red and well-considered details, artfully placed illustrations ranging from spot art to double-page spreads capture the relentlessness of winter, the budding of spring, and the easy comfort of this father-and-son relationship. Crisp text supplies just the right pace for the story and clearly explains the sugaring process without disrupting the flow of the narrative. The subtle visual cues that the season is slowly changing become more evident with every page-turn until the sweet and satisfying conclusion. Julie Roach January/February 2020 p.79(c) Copyright 2020. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

Moonlight highlights the bare-branched trees of winter as a little boy asks, Is the sap running yet? Not until the days get warmer, answers Dad. On Sunday morning, there isn't any syrup on Ethan's cornbread. And next week, no syrup on his oatmeal. Plus, his loose tooth hasn't come out yet. Finally, days get warmer, the tooth comes out, and the sap starts to run. As the two collect the sap in buckets, tend the fire beneath the pans, boil the sap, and bottle it, breakfast is pancakes with sweet maple syrup. The final picture of a contented boy and a cuddly teddy bear is comfortable and sweet as the reward for a long wait is at last realized. Karas' distinctive mixed-media illustrations with muted hues and delicate lines expressively show the tenderness between father and child, emphasizing the perceived slowness of time passing and the difficulty of waiting. Each detailed picture has blurred borders for the cameos, contrasting with full-page depictions of the woods in both day and night.--Lolly Gepson Copyright 2019 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 1--Young Ethan and his faithful teddy try to understand why they must wait for sugaring time to bring maple syrup back to their breakfast table for pancakes, corn bread, and oatmeal. His dad patiently explains the need to wait for warmer temperatures and shorter nights before tapping the trees, but the child repeatedly asks, "How long?" Things get really tough when Ethan also has to wait for a loose tooth to come out. The tooth and sap finally cooperate on the same day. Readers get to see a bit of the syrup process from tree to table. Karas's mixed media illustrations are bold and dynamic. Indoor scenes of Ethan and his dad are warm and cozy, while the cold, crisp outdoor scenes are starkly evocative. VERDICT In addition to promoting the value of patience, Schmidt's story will also be valuable for early study of changing seasons and teaching where food comes from. A fine choice for most collections.--Gay Lynn Van Vleck, Henrico County Library, Glen Allen, VA

Kirkus Review

Time crawls for Ethan as he anxiously awaits the beginning of sugaring season.Sunday should mean maple syrup on any breakfast his dad cooks. But the maple syrup is used up, and sugaring time won't happen until the days lengthen. Is the sunny day just a little warmer? Is that a sliver of daylight at bedtime? Or is it only wishful thinking? Dad also says his new loose tooth will fall out when the sap runs. The days creep by, and it's still cold and dark, and his tooth is still there. Then, finally, the tooth is out, and his father is waiting after school to begin the sugaring process. They work together as a team during the whole process of lifting, carrying, boiling, and pouring to make the longed-for syrup. That first slightly lighter Sunday morning and a breakfast of pancakes with maple syrup are blissful. Young readers will relate to Ethan's impatience with the slow march from winter to spring, as they hope and wait along with him, even if they are used to the faster pace of city or suburbia. Karas' illustrations beautifully depict both the wintry farm in day and night and the loving, trusting father-and-son team as they share everyday moments and work together contentedly. Ethan and Dad present white.A gentle tale that is as sweet and delicious as maple syrup. (Picture book. 4-7) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.