Sugaring Time Critical Essays

Kathryn Lasky


(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Lasky takes a complicated subject in nature and industry and simplifies it for young readers. The combination of third-person narration and intermittent dialogue, along with the portrayal of tender and supportive familial relationships, makes the process of sugaring seem both homey and matter-of-fact. Even dangerous stages of sugaring, such as boiling, are explained carefully. Knight’s photography evokes warm emotions on the part of readers. The Lacey children participate in all stages of the sugaring process, even in skimming the foam from the boiling sap. At each step, Lasky describes the simple joys of the children: letting their Belgian workhorses taste the sap, placing their mouths in the sap flow, sipping sap tea, and throwing sugar-on-snow parties with neighborhood friends.

The book revels in familial relationships, as children fall asleep in their grandmother’s arms, stand side-by-side with their father while tapping the trees, and securely sit close to their mother on the sled. The black-and-white photographs affectionately depict these relationships. The incredible harmony in this three-generation family can provide escape and fantasy for young readers in homes where little sense of harmony exists. Readers are shown model working relationships in which each person has defined roles and tasks. Sugaring Time can be used as a springboard for vocational discussion, as well as a model for work projects where family and community effort...

(The entire section is 498 words.)