Adventure begins with Matt’s late-spring visit to “the Pit,” a vacant lot at the edge of his neighborhood. Matt notices something he’s never seen before: water is bubbling up from the ground in the midst of old tires and rusted tin cans. When he looks carefully at the Pit, Matt realizes it is a shallow depression that was once a small pond. He now has a mission. He asks his sister Katie and friend Pablo to help revive the long gone pond. Debris from the Pit is cleared away, and the children rebuild a small dam with rocks and logs gathered from the surrounding woods.
LaMarche’s charming Pond illustrations are vital to the telling of this story, as pages are filled with subtle yet beautiful seasonal color changes and the occasional view of the city skyline. As the pond slowly fills, Katie uses her guidebooks to identify the insects and birds that appear at this new habitat. An old wooden boat seen lying nearby is repaired, and the children celebrate by giving each other rides as they pull the boat across the shallow pond, amidst the arrival of even more insects and birds. The success story of the reclaimed pond is fully realized with LaMarche’s two-page illustration of the children floating and playing among water lilies in the brilliant blue pond.
Geese make the pond a fall rest stop, and Matt wants to feed the birds. But naturalist Katie cautions them against feeding the geese: “My book says they should only eat the food they find in the wild.” When temperatures drop, the pond becomes a skating rink for neighborhood children while deer watch from the edge of the woods. Warmer weather brings more wildlife to the pond as the friends plan how they’ll further enjoy their reclaimed landscape.
Children as young as four will enjoy LaMarche’s gentle story and realistic animal illustrations while older readers will appreciate the children’s resourcefulness as they work to restore and then enjoy the pond.