School Library Journal April Review
April. Gr 2-4–This exquisitely illustrated picture book describes the life of Joe Purdon, who devoted his life to the preservation of the showy lady’s-slipper, an orchid native to North America. When he was 13, Purdon learned about the flowers from his teacher, who told her students how rare and delicate they were because of their inability to self-pollinate and because they require a precise balance of water and sunlight. Purdon came across more Showy Lady’s-slippers growing in a wet, lowland area of his family’s farm in Eastern Ontario. Believing them to be “‘the prettiest thing this side of sunset,” he began to study their life cycle, learning how to pollinate them and how much water and sunshine they needed to grow and protecting the colonies of pink flowers from hungry animals. The book ends with Purdon as an adult, still nurturing the now thousands of plants flourishing under his care. An epilogue and a note at the end of the book describe how the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority was established in 1982 to protect the colony. Dominated by shades of green, the illustrations are elegant. The text fictionalizes somewhat, relying heavily on dialogue. Slightly on the stiff side, the writing may not resonate with readers, but the images will keep them turning pages. VERDICT A solid addition to science collections, this title introduces young readers to the concept of conservation and emphasizes that one person can make a difference.–Patricia Ann Owens, formerly with Illinois Eastern Community Colls., Mount Carmel
Midwest Book Review ‘Botany Shelf’ review. March 2015 issue:
“The Slippers’ Keeper” is an exquisitely illustrated true story of a boy named Joe Purdon who loved walking and exploring the Canadian woods with his dog, Laddie. On his walks he observed and learned to know many things about the plants and animals of his beloved woodlands. One special discovery that he treasured was the Showy Lady’s Slipper, which he discovered was a flower unable to pollinate itself and bloom without the help of bees or insects. The delicate wild orchid also required just the right balance of water and sunlight to thrive. Joe decided to make it his project to help Showy Lady’s Slippers to grow in the fen. This was not a project that had the full support of his father, who approved Joe’s activities only after his farm chores were done. Fortunately Joe’s mother understood he needed to pursue his special interest for pleasure in the beauty of the wild orchid. Joe studied and observed the needs of the wild orchid and persisted in his plan to aid the spread of Showy Lady’s Slippers in the fen near his farm home. Joe grew into a man who loved his work with the wild orchids, maple syrup production, and woodworking with felled trees, rather than farming. Gradually he watched his orchid colony grow and increase, just as his own family did also. Joe’s work with the preservation of the Showy Ladys’ Slipper was later preserved and honored by the Purdon Conservation Area, later the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority. “The Slippers’ Keeper” honors this amazing legacy with narrative and tender portraits of the beautiful landscape of the Showy Lady’s Slipper in eastern Ontario, Canada.
Ian Wallace has had a distinguished career as an author and illustrator of picture books, publishing such classics as Chin Chiang and the Dragon’s Dance, Boy of the Deeps, The Huron Carol, Canadian Railroad Trilogy by Gordon Lightfoot and Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling. He has won the Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Award, the Mr. Christie’s Book Award, the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award and the IODE Violet Downey Book Award. He has also been nominated for the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award and the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award. Ian lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, with his wife, Deb.
The Slippers’ Keeper
Trade Cloth, Picture Book