Title: Beyond the Pond
Author/Illustrator: Joseph Kuefler
Age Group: 2-6
Synopsis: When Ernest D. dives into the pond behind his home, he’ll emerge within another place and with a different view of the world around him.
The Low Down:
I’m not sure what it is about water. When I was little I would play pretend about all the different worlds and amazing things I could discover under the surface. It led to many games of mermaids. I think that’s what initially drew me to Beyond the Pond. But when Bug and I read this gem from Joseph Kuefler, it instantly resonated with both of us. Bug spent the next few weeks exclaiming: “How exceptional!” every time he liked what was happening. It’s the main character’s (Ernest D.) catchphrase and also perfectly describes this book.
Ernest D. begins by relating to almost everyone out there. He’s bored and his house is boring. So, he goes out back and decides to poke his pond with a stick to see how deep it is. But he finds it’s not deep at all, it’s beyond that. It’s bottomless. Such an entity begs to be explored and so after collecting his explorer supplies, he and his dog dive into the pond. When they emerge, it’s in a different world full of dinosaurs, mini-unicorns ridden by mice, and all things unimaginable. And when Ernest D. returns, he finds that the world he left is not as boring as he previously thought. Now he recognizes that there are a vast number of corners left unexplored.
Kuefler brings this all to life with his enchanting illustrations that transport the reader along with Ernest D. The emotions the pages emit are contagious, causing elation, wonder, fear, and bravery to almost swirl up from the pages and catch the reader up in their spell. Somehow, Kuefler also manages to give his pictures an added depth that contrasts beautifully with the simplified sort of approach he takes. The illustrations are clean and refreshing and almost effortlessly appeals to the child in us. Bug’s favorite page hands down is when Ernest D collects his exploring supplies. The perspective is that of a child preparing for a mission and places the reader, almost literally, in Ernest D.’s shoes (you can see them sticking out at the bottom). It’s a story that very easily slipped into our home and our lives and helps us find ponds of our own around every bend. It is in a word: exceptional.
- Keep an eye on the endpapers.
- Things from beyond the pond show up back in Ernest D.’s real world too. Have fun spotting the real world version.
I need more!
Joseph Kuefler has another book just out called Rulers of the Playground. There is also a digger book that is in the works. I’d keep an eye on Amazon or Google as his own website is geared not only towards his writing but also his design business. However, there is a quarterly newsletter you can sign up for which will keep you up to date on his new material (http://josephkuefler.com/)
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