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*Hot Day on Abbott Avenue* by Karen English, illustrated by Javaka Steptoe

Hot Day on Abbott Avenue
by Karen English, illustrated by Javaka Steptoe
ages 4-8 32 pages Simon & Schuster October 2005 Hardcover    

As the sun beats down on the sidewalk on a steaming summer day, a day too hot to even wave a fan around for relief, two former best friends are playing alone - Kishi on her front porch, Renee sprawled on the grass, idly searching for four-leaf clovers. This is a “never-going-to-be-friends-again-day.”

Neither girl will speak to the other on this sweltering morning, not even when Mrs. Johnson asks them to help with her crossword puzzle, or when Mr. Paul invites them to weed his flowerbed. Determined to entertain themselves, one girl plays waterfall with the hose and the other solitary hopscotch. It seems the girls have had a falling out about which of them got the last blue popsicle that morning, leaving one with none and a bad case of hurt feelings.

Both Kishi and Renee are stubborn, refusing to give in until they hear the seductive thump of a jump rope hitting the ground, along with the familiar chant of neighborhood friends, "Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack..." Neither can resist this temptation. Soon they are turning the ropes for Double Dutch, the kids jumping for all they're worth.

Then the ice cream truck comes around for the second time on the afternoon of this sizzling day,and all the playmates stampede to buy blue popsicles. Kishi and Renee are suddenly in the same predicament as this morning,but this time the girls have learned their lesson and split the popsicle, one-half for each, turning this day into a "feeling-good-about-being-best-friends-again-day."

The images in the story are made of three-dimensional paper collage, cleverly manipulated to make the figures, scenery and colorful backgrounds, creating a sense of streets baking in the summer sun, two girls bored without a best friend to pass the time and neighborhood friends enjoying the intricate thumps of Double Dutch. This is a great lesson in coming-together-after-a-fight-and-learning-to-share. Beautifully written and illustrated.

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  Luan Gaines/2005 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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