Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Divided into seven short chapters, Kathryn Lasky’s Sugaring Time chronologically traces the steps used in maple sap collection and processing. Christopher G. Knight, Lasky’s husband and a former photographer for National Geographic, clearly illustrates each stage of the maple syrup process with black-and-white photographs.

The setting of the book is Alice and Don Lacey’s sugar bush on their Vermont farm. The third-person narration describes Alice and Don’s children and parents as the three generations work together to harvest their sugar. Every detail of the harvest process is covered. They use their Belgian workhorses for “breaking out” trails in the snow after a cold winter. Once the trails are trod, they tap each tree with a special drill and bit. Spouts are inserted to collect the sweet sap that gathers just beneath the bark, and buckets are placed below the spouts to catch the sap. Lids, or “hats,” are placed on the buckets to keep out rain and snow. The sap begins to “rise,” seeping out of the tree in long drips, when the sun passes the vernal equinox.

When the Laceys go out to collect the sap, each child and adult enjoys his or her role. They delight in lifting the hats off the buckets to see how much sap there is to collect from each tree. According to Lasky, “Bark shimmers, branches quiver, a whole sky with clouds and sunbursts is reflected in the tree’s sweet water. It is a bucketful of life...

(The entire section is 494 words.)