Growing up in Vermont you know Maple Syrup from a young age. If your school did not take you on at least one trip to a family who ran sap lines, collected and boiled the sap, you probably where not in Vermont. Maple Sugar Candy is a favorite of mine. As a kid I would eat it until I was sick. Many people love that rich sticky syrup (pancakes and French toast are recommended but snow is good too. Helps makes a molasses like candy). Therefore, when I saw Almost Time by Gary D. Schmidt and Elizabeth Stickney, I thought I would give it a whirl.
What came from this reading of Almost Time is a story that could have used a little more about the process of making maple syrup (perhaps an afterwards) but overall it is a sweet story about waiting and patience. Ethan knows that sugaring time is almost here when he has to have applesauce on his pancakes. Each day that passes he marks the guideposts that show that the conditionals are almost right. And because of a special event, soon it is time to gather the sap and process it into syrup.
This part does show the process, but not in an academic way. Because of this, the story is more about waiting and being patient then actually about sugaring. However, I think a small author afterwards would be a fun addition.
But who can forget G. Brian Karas’s illustrations? Classically them, the art fits the soft tone of the story. They have the needed detail, needed colors and the needed elements to push the story along. They are cozy as the text is cozy. Kids can relate to the two main themes (waiting/patience) and the surprise at the end. Probably best for ages 5 to (low) 8, any age can find something to enjoy. Even if you are only “reading” the art.