Sugaring Time Analysis
by Kathryn Lasky

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Sugaring Time Analysis

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

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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 is emphasized.

Scientific concepts are explained using vivid imagery . For example, Lasky describes the vernal equinox: “Finally, after a freezing cold night, the next morning is sunny. It is not the pale, thin, low-angle sunlight of November, but the direct, strengthening light of a sun that has passed the year’s equator, the vernal equinox. It is the sun of longer days that feels warm on the cheeks, makes birds sing, and helps all things loosen up and stretch.” Her easy-to-understand style includes not only visual but auditory and tactile sensory descriptions as well: “This snow...

(The entire section is 498 words.)