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Children's Fiction Friendship

At the Pond

illustrated by Geraldo Valério

Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Mar 2020
Friendship, Imagination & Play, Emotions & Feelings
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2020
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Mar 2020
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 3 to 7
  • Grade: p to 2
  • Reading age: 3 to 7


Geraldo Valério looks at the nature of true friendship and love in a stunning new wordless picture book.

On a dull gray day, a boy puts his dog on a leash and they walk to a shimmering pond where snowy white swans swim freely. One of the swans invites the boy and dog for a ride. They climb on its back and sail into a stunningly beautiful landscape, dotted with wildflowers, spoonbills and ibises. Foxes, rabbits and deer appear in this paradise, then butterflies and even bigger, more beautiful flowers. The boy unleashes his dog on shore, and the dog bounds off to play.

Now the boy wraps his arms around the swan’s neck — he has a new friend. But when he puts the leash on the swan, the sky turns stormy gray, the water becomes turbulent, and the other swans fly away. Both the boy and swan are miserable, until the boy realizes he must free his friend. When he drops the leash into the pond, warm color fills their world and they return to where the boy’s dog happily awaits him.

Geraldo Valério, a master of wordless picture books, explores the nature of true friendship and love in his newest creation.

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

Explain how specific aspects of a text's illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting)

About the author

Geraldo Valério was born in Brazil, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Drawing, followed by a Master of Arts at New York University. His many highly acclaimed books include My Book of Birds (described in Booklist as “striking and beautiful”); At the Pond (two starred reviews); Friends (one starred review); Blue Rider (two starred reviews); Turn On the Night (three starred reviews) and The Egg (two starred reviews). His work has been published in many countries, including Canada, the US, Brazil, Portugal, France, the UK and China. Geraldo lives in Toronto.


Geraldo Valério's profile page


  • A Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of the Year
  • Commended, Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award Honourable Mention
  • Commended, New York Public Library Best Books for Kids
  • Commended, Booklist Top 10 Wordless Picture Books of the Year

Editorial Reviews

[Geraldo] deftly explores the nature of true friendship and love in his newest creation with a beautifully presented story that will be enjoyed by children ages 3-7 and will be considered a unique and prized addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.

Midwest Book Review

[At the Pond] can be used to foster imagination and to teach about respect for the natural environment as well as domesticated pets.

CM: Canadian Review of Materials

Full-bleed double-page complex illustrations move the story from monotones to brilliant colors, creating a magical world of joy.


[A]n important story for readers of all ages to reflect on love and what is required to earn and keep it.

School Library Journal

Valério uses simple crayon illustrations that clearly convey the message of the book about friendship and freedom.

Vancouver Writers Fest

A provocative drama inviting readers to question their own behaviors toward all of the creatures in their orbits.

Kirkus Reviews

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