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Like pickle juice on a cookie

by Julie Sternberg


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 2-4-Eleanor is having a bad August, so bad it is "like pickle juice on a cookie." Her longtime babysitter, Bibi, is moving away to take care of her ailing father, and the eight-year-old is having trouble coping with her loss. Her parents and new babysitter, Natalie, do all they can to help her, but Eleanor is constantly reminded of Bibi and the things they did together. Writing a letter to her helps and she meets the mail carrier, Val, who promises to keep a lookout for a reply. Eleanor does receive a letter in the mail, but it is from her third-grade teacher welcoming all of his new students to school. The bustle of a new school year helps Eleanor, a talk with Natalie about the importance of first babysitters does, too, and then on the first day of school Bibi's reply arrives. After reading it, Eleanor realizes that Bibi will always be special to her, no matter where she lives. Through short, easy sentences, Sternberg has captured the feelings of a young girl, the worries that loom large, and the importance of small matters. Early chapter-book readers will identify with the protagonist and enjoy reading about her. Cordell's pen-and-ink drawings effectively illustrate the ups and downs of Eleanor's life.-Terrie Dorio, Santa Monica Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Eleanor Abigail Kane has just experienced an August as dreadful as the black parts on a banana: her beloved babysitter, Bibi, has moved away to Florida to care for her ill father, and Eleanor is bereft. How she grows to love a new babysitter, while still cherishing Bibi, forms the center of this understated early chapter book. The story is told in straightforward, steady verse that echoes the gradual pace of Eleanor's healing process. Surrounded by adults who are sympathetic to her loss, Eleanor is allowed time to grieve while being gently encouraged to find joy in new experiences and friends. Cordell's winsome cartoon drawings complement the text without overcrowding the verse. The phrase pickle juice on a cookie is used at first to describe something tragic, and then something ridiculous, and fortunately, this title falls into neither category. It tells a simple, poignant story that will resonate with any child who has ever had to say good-bye.--Dean, Kara Copyright 2010 Booklist

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

"I had a bad August," announces eight-year-old Eleanor at the start of this empathetic debut novel. The main reason? Her beloved and longtime babysitter, Bibi, is moving from Brooklyn to Florida. No less resonant for its simplicity and accessibility, Eleanor's ingenuous free-verse monologue should strike a chord with readers, especially those who may have had to cope with the loss of a loved one. When Eleanor's mother takes time off from work after Bibi's departure (reassuring Eleanor that they'll "get through this together"), Eleanor, still smarting, refuses to engage in any of the activities that she and Bibi enjoyed ("We could not go to Roma Pizza./ Because Bibi loved Roma Pizza.... We could not ride my bike./ Because Bibi helped pick out my bike"). Eleanor's gradual warming to her new sitter is affectingly narrated, and Cordell's halftone cartoons convey the story's pathos and humor, as well as Eleanor's changeable moods. When the girl's best friend returns from vacation and they start third grade, it seems certain that Eleanor's September will be better than her August. Her fans will want to read about it. Ages 8-10. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.



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