My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I found The Beaver Pond quite by accident, turning left instead of right and getting lost amongst the picture books. I’m very lucky in the library that I frequent in that it quite often throws up hidden treasures in this manner.
The Beaver Pond is a slim picture book first published in 1971 and is a fairly traditional production. We have images and text clearly delineated; the full page heavily coloured images stand by themselves and where a double page spread occurs, there’s a white gutter across the bottom of the spread for the text to stand on.
It tells the story of the life-cycle of a beaver pond. We follow it throughout the seasons and see how the weather affects the animals that live round and about the pond (“the winter snows swept down, filling the hollows / and covering the secret runways of field mice”). The pond starts to shrink over the years, packed up by mud and dirt and eventually it grows too small for the beavers and they move on. When the spring floods come, the damn (no longer maintained by the beavers) breaks and the waters sweep over the small pond and into a stream (“Once more the stream ran free, / Bit by bit the muddy floor of the old pond / turned green. Young plants sprang up in the rich earth and where once a pond / had caught and held the blue sky / there spread a green and grassy meadow / with a brook meandering through it”). The beavers, down-stream, had already built a dam for their home and this catches the stream and forms a new pond for all the animals to live in and around.
This is coming up to 40 years old and naturally is showing a little age but there’s still a charm about this book that appeals. I really like the quiet message about rejuvenation and the cyclical nature of, um, nature. I was reminded a lot of the Silver Brumby books by Elyne Mitchell as both books share a strong painterly touch for describing their native locales.
If you see this on a bookshelf somewhere, quite probably deep in the shadows, don’t be put off by the slightly dated air of the front cover. It’s a charming, quiet book with some very beautiful moments.